Allied Warships

HMS Charybdis (88)

Light cruiser of the Dido class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
ClassDido 
Pennant88 
ModAA Cruiser 
Built byCammell Laird Shipyard (Birkenhead, U.K.) 
Ordered18 Aug 1938 
Laid down9 Nov 1938 
Launched17 Sep 1940 
Commissioned3 Dec 1941 
Lost23 Oct 1943 
Loss position48° 59'N, 3° 39'W
History

HMS Charybdis (Capt. George Arthur Wallis Voelcker, RN) was sunk off north coast of Brittany, France in position 48°59'N, 03°39'W by 2 torpedoes from the German torpedo boats T-23 and T-27. 464 men died (including the Commanding Officer) and 107 survived.

 

Commands listed for HMS Charybdis (88)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Lachlan Donald Mackintosh, DSC, RN15 Aug 194127 Jun 1942
2Capt. George Arthur Wallis Voelcker, RN27 Jun 194223 Oct 1943 (+)

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Notable events involving Charybdis include:


The page for HMS Charybdis is last updated in May 2022.

[Further research will still be needed though].

15 Nov 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) is commissioned for trials at her builders yard at Birkenhead. (1)

29 Nov 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted compas swing trials off Liverpool. (1)

30 Nov 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted D/G trials off Liverpool on completion of which course was set for Greenock where she arrived later the same day. En-route various trials were carried out. (1)

2 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted A/S and full fower trials in the Clyde area. (2)

3 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted full fower trials on the Arran measured mile following which the ship was accepted for service. (2)

5 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted D/G trials off Greenock. (2)

9 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted compas swing and D/F calibration trials off Greenock. (2)

10 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises in the Clyde area. A throw off shoot was part of the exercises during which HMS Cardiff (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO, RN) served as target. (2)

12 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises in the Clyde area. (3)

13 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises in the Clyde area. (2)

17 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises in the Clyde area. (2)

18 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises in the Clyde area. Also log trials were carried out on the Arran measured mile. (2)

19 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises in the Clyde area. (2)

22 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises in the Clyde area. (2)

23 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted damage control exercises in the Clyde area. (2)

24 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises in the Clyde area. (2)

26 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area with HMS Cardiff (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO, RN).

On completion of these trials HMS Charybdis conducted torpedo firing exercises. (2)

31 Dec 1941
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials with aircraft in the Clyde area. (2)

1 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises in the Clyde area. (4)

6 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted exercises with aircraft and torpedo firing exercises in the Clyde area. (4)

7 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises / RDF trials in the Clyde area. (4)

8 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery and torpedo firing exercises in the Clyde area. Also RDF trials were carried out. (4)

16 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

17 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

18 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

19 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

20 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

22 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

24 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

26 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

28 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

29 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted trials in the Clyde area. (4)

30 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

31 Jan 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (4)

1 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area. (5)

2 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo firing exercises exercises in the Clyde area. (5)

4 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

5 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

6 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

7 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) proceeded from Lamlash to Greenock. (5)

10 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) proceeded Greenock to Lamlash. En-route exercises were carried out. She also rescued the crew of a Beaufighter aircraft which had crashed. (5)

11 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

13 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

14 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

20 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) proceeded from Greenock to Lamlash. (5)

21 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

22 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

23 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises in the Clyde area. (5)

24 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

25 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

26 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (5)

27 Feb 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) proceeded from Lamlash to Greenock. (5)

3 Mar 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted D/G trials off Greenock after which she proceeded to Lamlash. (6)

5 Mar 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (6)

7 Mar 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) proceeded from Lamlash to Greenock. (6)

10 Mar 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery and torpedo firing exercises in the Clyde area. (6)

11 Mar 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted special trials in the Clyde area. (6)

12 Mar 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) departed Lamlash for Scapa Flow. (6)

13 Mar 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow from the Clyde. (6)

14 Mar 1942

Minelaying operation SN 81.

Minelaying operation by the 1st Minelaying Squadron.

On 14 March 1942, the auxiliary minelayers Southern Prince (A/Capt. J. Cresswell, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral T.B. Drew, OBE, RN), HMS Menestheus (Capt.(Retd.) R.H.F. de Salis, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Port Quebec (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN) and HMS Agamemnon (Capt.(Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN) departed Port ZA. (Loch Alsh) to lay minefield SN 84. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN) and HMS Wells (Lt. L.J. Pearson, RN).

They were joined around 1500A/14 by the destroyer HMS St. Marys (Lt.Cdr. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN). The had departed Scapa Flow around 0900A/14.

Cover for the operation was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow around 1800A/14. She joined the 1st Minelaying Squadron the following morning.

Rendezvous was made around 1300A/15 with the survey vessel HMS Scott (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Sharpey-Schafer, RN) which had been deployed to the position of the minelay to archive extreme accuracy for the upcoming minelay which commenced shortly afterwards.

A total of 2053 mines were laid along a line joining positions
62°18'2"N, 07°42'2"W,
62°26'3"N, 07°56'3"W,
62°30'3"N, 08°04'8"W and
62°37'7"N, 08°17'7"W.

The minelayers laid as follows; HMS Southern Prince 562 mines, Agamemnon 530 mines, HMS Menestheus 410 mines and HMS Port Quebec 551 mines.

Depth of the mines was 18 to 20 feet. One premature explosion was seen.

The 1st Minelaying Squadron, including HMS St. Marys arrived back at Port ZA on 16 March as did HMS Charybdis and HMS Ledbury which arrived at Scapa Flow also on the 16th. (7)

26 Mar 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (6)

29 Mar 1942

Minelaying operation SN 87.

Minelaying operation by the 1st Minelaying Squadron.

On 29 March 1942, the auxiliary minelayers Southern Prince (A/Capt. J. Cresswell, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral T.B. Drew, OBE, RN), HMS Menestheus (Capt.(Retd.) R.H.F. de Salis, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Port Quebec (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN) and HMS Agamemnon (Capt.(Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN) departed Port ZA (Loch Alsh) to lay minefield SN 84. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt.Cdr. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS Castleton (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Bristowe, DSO, RN) and HMS Wells (Lt. L.J. Pearson, RN).

Off the Butt of Lewis they were joined by the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow earlier that day.

On 30 March a total of 2030 mines were laid along a line joining positions

248 of these were laid between positions 62°18'2"N, 07°55'6"W and 62°27'9"N, 08°17'5"W.

The remaining lines were laid within 3 cables either side of a line joining positions
62°27'9"N, 08°15'8"W,
62°31'5"N, 08°23'5"W,
62°35'6"N, 08°30'7"W and
62°45'8"N, 08°49'0"W.

The minelayers laid as follows; HMS Southern Prince 562 mines, Agamemnon 508 mines, HMS Menestheus 408 mines and HMS Port Quebec 550 mines.

The First Minelaying Squadron arrived back at Port HHZ on 31 March as did HMS Charybdis at Scapa Flow. (7)

1 Apr 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted damage control exercises at Scapa Flow. (8)

4 Apr 1942
HMS Norfolk (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. They returned to Scapa Flow early on the 5th. (9)

10 Apr 1942
HMS Kenya (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) conducted a refuelling exercise at Scapa Flow with HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN).

In the afternoon and early evening HMS Kenya, HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (10)

12 Apr 1942
Around 0830/12, HMS Renown (Commodore C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) departed Scapa Flow for the Clyde where they arrived around 0730/13.

Capt. Daniel temporary served in the rank of Commodore for the upcoming operation. (11)

13 Apr 1942
The AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) departed the Clyde late on the 13th for Gibraltar.

Off Milford Haven, she was joined early in the afternoon by the AA cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) and then proceeded southwards in company. (12)

14 Apr 1942

Operation Calender.

Spitfire fighters to be flown off to Malta.

Around 0700A/14, ' Force W ' made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Commodore C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier USS Wasp (Capt. J.W. Reeves, Jr., USN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), USS Lang (Lt.Cdr. E.A. Seay, USN) and USS Madison (Lt.Cdr. W.B. Ammon, USN) departed the Clyde for a mission to fly off Spitfire fighters to Malta.

At 2020A/15, ' Force W ' made a 90° emergency turn to port as HMS Partidge had obtained an A/S contact and attacked it with depth charges. The original course was resumed a little over 20 minutes later. At 2045A/15, HMS Partridge dropped more depth charges. ' Force W ' then commenced zig-zagging. HMS Partridge rejoined the screen at 2305A/15.

Around 1915A/17 all destroyers were detached to refuel at Gibraltar after they had been relieved, temporary, by the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN). These destroyers had departed Gibraltar around 0001A/16.

HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo, HMS Ithuriel, HMS Partridge, USS Lang and USS Madison arrived at Gibraltar around 1500A/18. After fuelling they departed to conduct an A/S patrol to the east of Gibraltar and then rejoin ' Force W '.

Around 0700/19 the original screen rejoined from Gibraltar as did the cruisers HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) also coming from Gibraltar. The cruisers had departed from Gibraltar at 0145A/19 and joined with the destroyers that were on A/S patrol at 0230A/19. HMS Antelope, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler were detached around 0630A/19 to return to Gibraltar where they arrived at 1100A/19. HMS Vidette for now remained with ' Force W '. She left the formation at 1900A/19 and proceeded to Gibraltar independently.

After fuelling HMS Antelope and HMS Westcott departed Gibraltar to rejoin ' Force W ' at 1415A/19 as did HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler at 1545A/19. They rejoined ' Force W ' around 0900A/20.

At 0500A/20, in position 37°30'N, 03°20'E, USS Wasp commenced flying off 11 F4F Wildcat fighters to provide a combat air patrol whilst the Spitfires were launched. At 0545A/20 the flying off of 47 Spitfires commenced. All were successfully launched and the combat air patrol landed on around 0715A/20 when ' Force W ' reversed course and steered for Gibraltar.

At 1620A/20, HMS Vidette arrived at Gibraltar to fuel. She sailed again to rejoin ' Force W ' at 0130A/21.

At 0250A/21, HMS Cairo, HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo, USS Lang and USS Madison arrived at Gibraltar. After fuelling they departed again at 0625A/21 to rejoin the USS Wasp at sea.

At 1630A/21, HMS Renown, HMS Charybdis, HMS Antelope, HMS Vidette, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart, HMS Wrestler, HMS Ithuriel and HMS Partridge arrived at Gibraltar after playing their part in Operation Calender.

USS Wasp now escorted by HMS Cairo, HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo, USS Lang and USS Madison set course for Scapa Flow.

Around 1645A/25, the destroyers USS Plunkett (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Standley, Jr., USN) and USS Wainwright (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Gibbs, USN) joined. Shortly afterwards HMS Cairo parted company and proceeded to Bangor Bay near Belfast, Northern Ireland arriving there around 0800A/26.

USS Wasp, HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo, USS Lang, USS Madison, USS Plunkett and USS Wainwright arrived at Scapa Flow around 1200A/26. (13)

18 Apr 1942
The AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from the U.K. (12)

19 Apr 1942
The AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar for operation Calender.

[For more info on this operation see the event ' Operation Calender ' for 14 April 1942. (12)

21 Apr 1942
At 1630A/21, HMS Renown (Commodore C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from operations. (14)

29 Apr 1942

Operation Bowery.

Spitfire fighters to be flown off to Malta.

On 29 April 1942 the aircraft carrier USS Wasp (Capt. J.W. Reeves, Jr., USN), destroyers USS Lang (Lt.Cdr. E.A. Seay, USN), USS Sterett (T/Cdr. J.G. Coward, USN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) departed Scapa Flow for the Clyde.

On 30 April 1942, USS Wasp, USS Lang, USS Sterett and HMS Blackmore arrived at Greenock where USS Wasp embarked Spitfire fighters for Malta.

Around 0600/3, USS Wasp, USS Lang, USS Sterett, HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Lewes, DSC, RN) departed the Clyde on operation Bowery.

At 0001/5 the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to make rendesvous with USS Wasp and her escorting detroyers. They joined around 1730/6. USS Lang, USS Sterett, HMS Echo and HMS Intrepid then parted company and proceeded to Gibraltar fuel. They arrived at Gibraltar around 1800/7.

Around 0130/8, ' Force W ' made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Commodore C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and the destroyers USS Lang, USS Sterret, HMS Echo, HMS Intrepid, HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Georgetown (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR) and HMS Salisbury (Lt.Cdr. M.H.R. Crichton, RN) departed Gibraltar to join USS Wasp and her escorting destroyers. They joined around 0800/8 after which HMS Antelope, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler were detached to fuel at Gibraltar. They arrived at Gibraltar at 1250/8 except HMS Wrestler which only arrived at 1425/8. After fuelling the departed as follows, HMS Antelope and HMS Westcott at 1720/8, HMS Wishart at 1800/8 and finally HMS Wrestler at 2205/8. They were to rejoin ' Force W '.

Around 0945/8, HMS Georgetown was detached to return to Gibraltar with defects (excessive vibration). She arrived at Gibraltar at 1630/8.

Between 0630/9 and 0800/9 a total of 17 Spitfires were launched from HMS Eagle and 47 from HMS Wasp. Course was then set to the westwards. One aircraft had crashed on taking off, one returned to USS Wasp, one landed in North-Africa and one landed on the sea near Malta.

At 1030/9, HMS Antelope, HMS Westcott and HMS Wishart rejoined ' Force W '. HMS Wrestler presumably joined later.

At 1130/9, HMS Intepid, HMS Echo and HMS Salisbury parted company with ' Force W ' to proceed to Gibraltar.

At 1300/9, USS Lang and USS Sterret parted company with ' Force W '.

Between 0015/10 and 0100/10, HMS Intrepid, HMS Echo, HMS Salisbury, USS Lang and USS Sterett arrived at Gibraltar to fuel. En-route to Gibraltar HMS Salisbury had attacked an A/S contact with depth charges.

At 0120/10, HMS Ithuriel was detached to Gibraltar.

Around 0330/10, HMS Eagle and HMS Wrestler parted company. They arrived at Gibraltar around 0500/10.

Around 5000/10, HMS Intepid, HMS Echo, HMS Salisbury and USS Lang departed Gibraltar to rejoin ' Force W '. USS Sterett was unable to sail with them due to defects. She departed at 1100/10. HMS Intrepid, HMS Echo and USS Lang rejoined ' Force W ' around 0815/10 followed one hour later by HMS Salisbury. Around 0815/10, HMS Vidette was detached to Gibraltar followed by HMS Partridge, HMS Antelope, HMS Westcott and HMS Wishart around 0945/10. Around 1200/10, HMS Charybdis was detached to Gibraltar.

At 0645/11, USS Sterett rejoined.

At 0915/12, HMS Salisbury was detached to proceed independently. She was unable to keep up with ' Force W ' in the current weather conditions without sustaining more damage then she had already did up to that point.

' Force W ', HMS Renown, USS Wasp, HMS Echo, HMS Intrepid, USS Lang and USS Sterett arrived at Scapa Flow around 0700/15. (13)

30 Apr 1942
HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Gibraltar. [No info available on their destroyer screen.] (15)

1 May 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Gibraltar. (16)

5 May 1942
HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Gibraltar. [No info available on their destroyer screen.] (17)

8 May 1942
Around 0130B/8, ' Force W ' made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Commodore C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and the destroyers USS Lang, USS Sterret, HMS Echo, HMS Intrepid, HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Georgetown (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR) and HMS Salisbury (Lt.Cdr. M.H.R. Crichton, RN) departed Gibraltar for operation Bowery.

[For more info on this operation see the event ' Operation Bowery ' for 29 April 1942] (18)

10 May 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) returned to Gibraltar from operations. (16)

17 May 1942

Operation LB.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

At 0950B/17, the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN) departed Gibraltar for an A/S sweep of the harbour before the departure of the other ships.

At 1015B/17, the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN) and AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar and joined the destroyers.

At 1330B/17, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to overtake the other ships. The destroyer HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) was unable to sail with them due to defects. After repairs she sailed at 1535B/17 to overtake and join the other ships but later turned back as it was considered she was in an unreliable condition.

Around 1815B/17, all ships were now in company with each other.

At At 0830B/18 in position 37°07'N, 01°03'E, HMS Charybdis and HMS Partidge sighted three torpedo tracks. HMS Partidge then combed the tracks and gained a firm contact and then carried out a depth charge attack, but with no visible results. At 1007B/18, the doubtful report of a submarine periscope resulted in HMS Ithuriel dropping one depth charge and an investigation by HMS Westcott, but no confirmation of the presence of a submarine was obtained.

The attack at 0830B/18 was carried out by the Italian submarine Mocenigo which intended to attack HMS Eagle but was unable to do so therefore three stern torpedoes were fired at the cruiser from 1200 meters. Two torpedo explosions were heard and were thought to be hits. The counter attack by HMS Partridge caused damage which forced her to abandon her patrol and return to base for repairs.

At 1320B/18 an attempt was made to fly off the Spitfires, but low wind velocity precluded it. At 1440B/18, the first flight of Spitfires was flown off from position 37°32'N, 01°58'E and the second flight at 1515B/18 from position 37°33'N, 03°02'E. The take offs were without incident.

Six Albacores were flown off at 1930B/18 in position 37°39'N, 04°02'E, but they all returned and landed on defective.

The force had frequently been reported by enemy aircraft, and shadowing aircraft were intermittently seen and engaged when within range. Between 2130A/18 and 2215A/18 the force was attacked by torpedo carrying aircraft believed to be Italian SM 79's. HMS Eagle and HMS Argus were near missed.

Enemy reconnaissance aircraft were again sighted at 0949A/19 and 1119A/19, the latter aircraft being observed in the vicinity until 1315A/19. All were engaged by gunfire when within range.

All ships arrived back at Gibraltar in the early morning of 20 May 1942. (19)

28 May 1942
Around 2000B/28, the light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to search for an enemy submarine reported by a Sunderland aircraft, this was aircraft 'R' of 10 Squadron (RAAF), which had sighted and depth charged the Italian submarine Argo in position 38°04'N, 02°22'E.

They did not find the enemy and returned to Gibraltar around 2000B/30. (20)

1 Jun 1942
The aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN) conducted exercises off Gibraltar. (21)

2 Jun 1942

Operation Style 2.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

At 0445B/2, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded to the eastward at 17 knots.

Flying off position 37°48'N, 02°47'E was reached at 0600B/3, and in this area four flights of Spitfires totaling 31 machines, were flown off between 0600B/3 and 0827B/3. 27 aircraft arrived safely at Malta, four having been lost in action against a force of enemy ME 109 fighters near Pantelleria.

On the return journey, the Force was shadowed and reported intermittently by enemy aircraft, which were fired on when within range. An alteration of course was made to avoid enemy submarines which might have been homed by the shadowing aircraft, and the Force entered Gibraltar Harbour at 0615B/4 without further incident. (22)

7 Jun 1942

Operation Salient.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

Around 2130B/7, the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded to the westward so as to mislead enemy spies. She later proceeded eastwards to re-enter the Mediterranean.

Around 0920B/8, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), AA cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded to the eastward.

At 1200B/8, HMS Charybdis joined the other ships.

All 32 Spitfires were flown off in ffrom position 37°18'N, 02°30'E between 0600B/9 and 0730B/9. All aircraft arrived safely at Malta.

The Force was shadowed by an enemy aircraft, and reported by an enemy submarine, but no attack followed and the Force arrived safely back at Gibraltar in the morning of June 10th. (23)

12 Jun 1942

Operation Harpoon. Supply convoy to Malta from Gibraltar.


Timespan: 12 to 18 June 1942.

During March and April 1942 Malta had been attacked very heavily by the German and Italian air forces and was in much need of supplies. It was therefore decided that two convoy’s were to be sent, one from the west (Harpoon) and one from the east (Vigorous). This was to increase the chance of success as the enemy would have to split force if they want to attack both convoys. Also a group of minesweepers were to be sent to Malta.

Below we will give the events regarding the Harpoon convoy in chronological order.

12 June 1942.

Western Mediterranean (Harpoon convoy)

During the night convoy WS 19 Z passed the Straits of Gibraltar. This convoy had departed the Clyde on June 6th. It was made up of five merchant vessels; Burwan (British , 6069 GRT, built 1928), Chant (American, 5601 GRT, built 1938), Orari (British, 10350 GRT, built 1931), Tanimbar (Dutch, 8169 GRT, built 1930) and Troilus (British, 7422 GRT, built 1921).

Off Gibraltar the tanker Kentucky (American , 9308 GRT, built 1942) joined the convoy.

Close escort was provided by ‘Force X’ which was made up of the AA-cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSC, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN), escort destroyers HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN), HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), ORP Kujawiak (Lt. L. Lichodziejewski), minesweepers HMS Hebe (Lt.Cdr. G. Mowatt, RD, RN), HMS Speedy (Lt. J.G. Brookes, RN), HMS Rye (Lt. J.A. Pearson, DSC, RN), HMS Hythe (Lt.Cdr. L.B. Miller, RN) and the motor launches (ML’s) ML 121 (group commander Lt.Cdr. E.J. Strowlger, RNVR), ML 134, ML 135, ML 168, ML 459 and ML 462.

Also operating with ‘Force X’ was the fast minelayer HMS Welshman (Capt. W.H.D. Friedberger, RN).

Distant cover was provided by ‘Force W’ which was made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruisers HMS Kenya (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN), HMS Liverpool (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN), AA-cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. H.T. Armstrong, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) and HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN). This force was to cover the convoy until off the Skerki Channel, the entrance to the Sicily-Tunis Narrows. The cover forces for this convoy were however rather weak. For instance the aircraft carriers were rather old and had hardly enough fighters available to provide a decent air patrol.

Then there was also a tanker force to fuel the escorts ‘Force Y’. It was made up of the RFA oiler Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941), escorted by two corvettes; HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR) and HMS Coltsfoot (T/Lt. the Hon. W.K. Rous, RNVR).

Besides these forces four submarines were on patrol in the western Mediterranean. They were stationed between Sardinia and Sicily. These were HMS P 211 (Cdr. B. Bryant, DSC, RN), HMS P 42 (Lt. A.C.G. Mars, RN), HMS P 43 (Lt. A.C. Halliday, RN) and HMS P 46 (Lt. J.S. Stevens, DSC, RN).

By 0800 hours on the 12th force was in full strength and proceeded eastwards at 12 to 13 knots.

The remainder of the day was uneventful except for the sighting of a Spanish merchant vessel in the evening.

13 June 1942.

On this day the convoy was shadowed continuously by German and Italian aircraft. Also it was thought an Italian submarine might have spotted the convoy but was not the case as of yet.

HMS Cairo and almost all the destroyers and escort destroyers oiled from Brown Ranger and HMS Liverpool. This was completed late in the evening.

Italian warships reported to be at sea.

Two Italian cruisers and five destroyers had been reported at daybreak (actually six detroyers were present). These were the light cruisers Eugenio di Savoia, Raimondo Montecuccoli and the destroyers Alfredo Oriani, Vincenzo Gioberti, Ascari, Ugolino Vivaldi, Nicolò Zeno and Premuda. They had sailed on the 13th from Cagliari, Sardinia. The most western British submarine on patrol HMS P 43 had attacked them at 1931 hours on the 13th. She claimed to have hit a cruiser but this was obviously not the case. Two hours later the next submarine on the patrol line HMS P 211 also sighted this Italian force but was too far off to attack.

14 June 1942.

During the night the force was spotted and reported by an Italian submarine. In fact two Italian submarines made attacks on the convoy during the night. These were the Uarsciek at 0152 hours (zone -2) which fired two torpedoes at a destroyer in position 38°02'N, 05°06'E. Both torpedoes missed. Then at 0505 hours, the Giada fired four torpedoes at an aircraft carrier (probably HMS Eagle although this carrier did not report hearing torpedo explosions and HMS Argus did) and a cruiser or battleship in position 37°55'N, 06°12'E. She claimed two hits but in fact all torpedoes missed.

At dawn enemy shadowing aircraft appeared once more. The convoy was approaching the danger area for air attacks coming from Sardinia. At 1000 hours the first radar warning came and at about the same time fighters from Eagle shot down an Italian torpedo aircraft. More of these aircraft were seen gathering about 20 miles from the convoy and form up for attack.

It was a bright and clear morning with hardly a cloud in the sky. There was little wind but such as there was came from the west and this made it difficult for the British fighter crews, especially for those from the 25-year old Argus with her small margin of speed, unless she would turn into the wind and leave the destroyer screen.

The convoy was steering east in two columns in line ahead. HMS Kenya was leading the port column while HMS Liverpool was leading the starboard one. Astern of the convoy was HMS Malaya with HMS Welshman astern of her. The aircraft carriers were operating independently to port of the convoy. Each carrier had an AA cruiser and a destroyer as escort. HMS Eagle was with HMS Cairo and HMS Wishart while HMS Argus was with HMS Charybdis and HMS Vidette.

The remaining fifteen destroyers and four minesweepers formed an all-round screen spread from three to three and a half miles from the convoy. This was done on purpose so that all ships could fire outward but also inward with a freedom that would have been impossible with a closer screen.

The air attacks began at 1030 hours. The first was a shallow dive-bombing attack by two groups, each of four or five Italian fighter-bombers (CR. 42). One group approached from astern at 12000 feet and diving to 6000 feet. The other group came from ahead at 6000 feet and dropped their bombs from 3000 to 4000 feet. Their target was HMS Argus and her consorts on the port beam of HMS Malaya. No damage was done, only one bomb fell close to HMS Charybdis. Two of the enemy planes were shot down after their attack by Fulmar’s from Eagle which were controlled by the Argus and afterwards landed aboard her. It was the policy to employ the Hurricanes from Eagle as high fighter force and the Fulmar’s from Argus as low fighter force.

A much more serious attack followed half an hour later when 28 Savoia torpedo aircraft escorted by 20 Macchi fighters conducted a combined attack with 10 Cant. high level bombers. The Savoia approached from the northward in two waves of equal strength. The first wave came in at 1110 hours and the second soon afterwards. The firstwave passed through the destroyer screen at 500 feet above the water, rounded the rear of the convoy, and attacked from the starboard side, splitting into groups before firing. They dropped their torpedoes from a height of 100 feet at a range of 2000 yards. They hit HMS Liverpool, which was leading the starboard column, when she was turing to meet the attack. Also the Dutch merchant Tanimbar was hit in the rear and she sank within a few minutes in position 36°58’N, 07°30’E.

The second wave attacked the port column dropped their torpedoes at longer range. All torpedoes missed. The Cant. bombers also came in two formations, coming from ahead out of the sun at a height of about 10000 feet. Their targets seemed to be Eagle and Argus but none of their bombs hit.

A little before 1200 hours several torpedo planes made harmless attacks from long range. They were probably stragglers turned back by gunfire during the earlier attacks and anxious to get rid of their torpedoes before turning back to base.

Upon the whole the Italians seem to have attacked gallantly. The British fighters claimed to have shot down three enemy fighters and three torpedo aircraft. Three British fighters were lost ofwhich one was shot down in error by a ship in the screen. The convoy and escort claim to have shot down seven enemy aircraft, all Savoia SM 79’s.

HMS Liverpool was hit in the engine room and badly damaged. She could only make 3 to 4 knots on one shaft. She was ordered to return to Gibraltar being towed by HMS Antelope and screened by HMS Westcott. A long voyage during which the first 24 hours she was attacked from the air. At 1640 hours, five CR. 42 fighter-bombers attacked from astern out of the sun, luckily without hitting, though one or two bombs fell close enough to increase the ships list. At 1800 hours, the tow having parted, there was a harmless attempt by eleven high-level bombers followed by an equally harmless attempt by seven torpedo aircraft which were heavily escorted by fighters. The Liverpool and Westcott each claimed to have destroyed a torpedo plane.

At 2015 hours, now once more in tow, fife high-level bombers attacked but their bombs fell wide.

At 2230 hours, six torpedo bombers made a twilight attack from very long range only to loose one of their number to the barrage HMS Liverpool put up.

The fruitless attacks on the damaged Liverpool in the afternoon and evening of the 14th evidently occupied the remaining aircraft available to the enemy in Sardinia for as the convoy was able to continue without being attacked. It was however still being shadowed and came within range of the Sicilian air bases in the evening.

HMS Welshman had replaced HMS Liverpool at the head of the starboard column of the convoy. She however parted company with the convoy around 2000 hours to continue the passage to Malta on her own at high speed.

At 1820 hours German bombers appeared, about ten Ju. 88’s approached the convoy from astern at 10000 feet and then dived to 6000 feet to make the attack. Both carriers had narrow escapes, Argus in particular. A bomb pitched fine on her port bow, dived under the ship and exploded on the starboard bow. No ship was damaged however. No enemy aircraft were shot down. Six British fighters however harassed the enemy and forced several of them to release their bombs prematurely. One Fulmar was lost.

As in the morning the shallow dive-bombing attack preluded a heavy combined torpedo and bombing attack but in the evening the lapse of time was greater and dive-bombers as well as high level-bombers took part in the massed attack. It was a combination of Italians and Germans. 16 Savoia 79 bombers heavily escorted by Macchi fighters with 10 Ju 88’s and 15 Ju 87’s. The first to appear were the Savoia’s which approached from the north-east to port at about 2000 hours. They were flying well above the water. Worked their way around the stern of the convoy outside gun range to glide down and attack on the starboard side. In the meantime, a few minutes after the Savoia’s had been sighted, two groups of Ju 88’s came in from ahead at 12000 feet and dropped their bombs without effect as they flew across the screen and along the columns of the convoy. Next the Ju 87’s arrived on the port bow and attacked the port wing of the screen, diving from 7000 to 1000 feet. They narrowly missed HMS Icarus and HMS Wrestler, though they had probably hoped to reach HMS Eagle. These dive bombers took most of the attention of the screen but then at 2020 hours the Italian torpedo-bombers came in. Most of them concentrated onHMS Malaya, HMS Argus, HMS Charybdis and HMS Vidette. They managed to drop three torpedoes within 300 yards from the carrier but she still managed to avoid them.

Around the time of these attacks HMS Middleton sighted a periscope and dropped a depth charge. Two other destroyers then hauled out of the screen and dropped depth charges. The periscope was next sighted by HMS Malaya after which HMS Speedy obtained an Asdic contact and attacked with depth charges in position 37°39’N, 09°35’E, claiming to have destroyed the enemy submarine.

This was the last encounter with the enemy before ‘Force W’ would separate from the convoy which was then to continue on to Malta only escorted by ‘Force X’.

As the convoy reached the entrance of the Narrows at 2100 hours, four Beaufighters arrived from Malta to relieve the hard worked naval aviators of the carriers. Around this time the Italian submarine Alagi attacked an aircraft carrier with two stern torpedoes in position 37°36'N, 09°53'E which both missed. The attack was not reported by either of the carriers and was probably not observed. Half an hour later ‘Force W’ turned westwards. The convoy continued eastwards with A/Capt. Hardy of HMS Cairo in command. For the passage of the Tunisian coast the five remaining merchant vessels formed a single line ahead with ‘Force X’ screening them.

At 2205 hours, as it was getting dark, eight Ju 88’s made a shallow dive-bombing attack dropping down from 6000 to 3000 feet to release their bombs. No hits were obtained. They lost two aircraft, one was shot down by a Beaufighter and the ther by gunfire from the ships. This was the end of this day’s fighting.

The Italian ships that had been reported to be at sea the previous day.

On receiving the submarines reports Vice-Admiral Leatham at Malta arranged for a striking force of Wellington aircraft to attack the enemy. Aircraft again sighted the enemy north-west of Cape San Vito, Sicily at 0255/14. At 0525/14 the enemy was sighted off Palermo. At 1800/14 two cruisers were reported to be in the harbour there. At dusk, at 2125 hours, two cruisers and four destroyers were reported to be leaving Palermo harbour but their course was not reported. Vice-Admiral Leatham judged that they were proceeding to the east to join the main Italian battlefleet that had left Taranto that same evening to operate against the ‘Vigorous-convoy’ in the eastern Mediterranean. Accordingly he stationed a naval air patrol over the Strait of Messina, with a naval air striking force at Malta standing by to attack.

‘Force W’

Vice-Admiral Curteis, who was taking ‘Force W’ westwards, also received the report of the enemy leaving Palermo and had to decide whether to strengthen ‘Force X’ with either one or both his cruisers, HMS Kenya and HMS Charybdis. He was then, at 2315/24, in position 37°30’N, 09°30’E, over 50 nautical miles from the convoy, which would be a further 100 nautical miles further on to the east by dawn on the 15th. He also judged that the Italian ships would be unlikely to be danger to the convoy and that the escort would be strong enough ‘to deter them from doing any harm’ escpecially as it would be expected that the Italians would be attacked from the air by aircraft from Malta. Apart from this he was anxious for the safety of his aircraft carriers, which would need the cruisers support while within striking distance from the enemy air bases in Sardinia. Furthermore there was barely time to overtake the convoy before by the morning. With the force available a decision either way was a gamble this might have been different had Liverpool not been torpedoed. He therefore decided against sending any reinforcement to the convoy.

15 June 1942.

Action south of Pantellaria

A/Capt. Hardy, the convoy escort commander in HMS Cairo first knew of the presence of the enemy through the report of a Beaufighter which was on it’s way to patrol above the convoy and which at 0620 hours reported two cruisers and four destroyers to be 15 nautical miles on the port beam of the convoy. The convoy at that time was stearing at 12 knots to the south-east. The merchantmen were formed in two columns again, with HMS Cairo ahead, the five ‘Fleet’ destroyers in the screen to starboard and the four ‘Hunt’s’ to port. The minesweepers and the ML’s were astern of the convoy. A few minutes later the Italian ships were sighted hull down against the brightening sky to the eastward. They were broad on the port bow and drawing ahead of the convoy at high speed. It was now also seen that there were five destroyers present instead of the reported four. Commander Scurfield (in HMS Bedouin led out the ‘Fleet’ destroyers to attack while HMS Cairo and the remainder of the convoy escort started making smoke to cover the merchant ships, which were ordered to turn to starboard and to seek shelter in Tunisian waters. It was A/Capt. Hardy’s intention to gain as much time as possible to enable an air striking force from Malta to attack the enemy.

At 0640 hours, the Italian cruisers opened fire at a range of over 20000 yards. Their second salvo straddled HMS Cairo and others fell near the convoy before the smoke screen could take effect. The British ships could not yet reply as the enemy was still out of range. As the ‘Fleet’ destroyers gathered way, they became strung out in a loose line of bearing, nearly line ahead, in the order HMS Bedouin, HMS Partridge, HMS Ithuriel, HMS Marne and HMS Matchless, though the last ship worked up to 32 knots in the endeavour to keep up. The first to destroyers opened fire on the enemy cruisers at 0645 hours with their guns at maximum elevation but in a quarter of an hour both Bedouin and Partridge were badly hit and stopped and the fight passed them by. Ithuriel held her fire till she got within 15000 yards, then she engaged a cruiser, which she eventually hit at a range of 8000 yards. Marne also engaged a cruiser, opening fire at over 18000 yards. In the meantime the Italian destroyers had fallen astern of the cruisers, three of them, in fact, soon left the line and disappeared to the northward. The last two enemy destroyers opened fire on the Marne from her port beam at around 0700 hours and she and Matchless, which was astern of her, replied. Both British destroyers soon found the range and hit one of the enemy (Ugolino Vivaldi) and drove them off. They then pressed on to engage the enemy cruisers which kept their distance and were zig-zagging and making smoke to upset the aim of the British ships.

As soon as the convoy was well behind the smoke screen and on it’s way to the westward. HMS Cairo and the four Hunt class escort destroyers were proceeding south and now also engaged the two enemy destroyers which had been engaged by Marne and Matchless. At about 0700 hours HMS Cairo came under fire from the enemy cruisers again. They were using two turrets each to engage the Cairo and two turrets to engage the ‘Fleet’ destroyers. HMS Cairo was hit by a 6” shell. She herself fired her 4” guns occasionally, though without much hope of doing real damage to the enemy.

At 0715 hours, A/Capt. Hardy decided to concentrate the remaining three ‘Fleet’ destroyers on HMS Cairo and ordered HMS Ithuriel to join him. HMS Marne and HMS Matchless continued to engage the enemy for about half an hour. Though fire from both sides was accurate no hits were obtained on either side. At 0745 hours the Italians turned to port on which A/Capt. Hardy turned north and ordered all destroyers to join him.

Meanwhile, the convoy, 15 nautical miles away to the north-west, steering westwards, now turned to the south-east again. At 0705 hours, now deprived of the support of HMS Cairo, all destroyers and escort destroyers, and without air support, the convoy was attacked by eight German JU 87 dive bombers. They sank the Chant and disabled the Kentucky. HMS Hebe took the Kentucky in tow. The convoy then went on until 0745 hours when course was changed to rejoin the escorts. The Italians however meanwhile where following the British escorts and kept them under fire.

At 0834 hours, A/Capt. Hardy, ordered the convoy to reverse course while Cairo and the destroyers laid a smokescreen across it’s track. This seems to have baffled the Italians which first turned to the south-west and then at 0840 hours hauled round to the north-eastward and stood away. A/Capt. Hardy then sent the ‘Hunt’-class escort destroyers to rejoin the convoy and then led the ‘Fleet’ destroyers after the enemy. At this time HMS Cairo was hit for the second time. For the present however the Italians had given up the game. By 0930 hours they were out of sight and the British ships then turned to rejoin the convoy.

At 1030 hours the merchant vessel were back on their proper course to Malta, with the escort at full strength except for HMS Bedouin and HMS Partridge. Long-range Spitfires from Malta were patrolling overhead.

At 1040 hours a few German bombers appeared but these were driven off before they could drop their bombs. The fighters were able to shot one down. Unfortunately this exhausted fuel and ammunition of the Spitfires which were operating at their extreme range so when at 1120 hours another attack started they were not able to repel it. Their relief had not yet arrived.

It was a combination of high-level and dive bombing by Ju. 88’s and Ju. 87’s. Gunfire destroyed one of the German’s. One or two were shot down afterwards by the relieving Spitfires which had arrived during the attack. By then however the merchant vessel Burdwan was disabled. There was still 150 nautical miles to go, with the likelihood of further attacks from the air and with Italian ships nearby. A/Capt. Hardy therefore decided that he had no other choice then to sacrifice the damaged Kentucky and Burdwan as the best way to save the rest of the convoy whose speed would otherwise be reduced to six knots. He ordered HMS Hebe and HMS Badsworth to sink the cripples which enabled the remaining two merchant ships to continue at their best speed.

At 1315 hours, dive-bombers attacked yet again. And again there was no fighter cover present over the convoy. This time however the German’s were unsuccessful. One bomber out of twelve was shot down by the ships AA fire while the relief flight of Spitfires came in time to shoot down two more as the enemy retired. This was the last time the convoy was attacked from the air before it arrived at Malta under the protection from short-range Spitfires. The next threat of attack came from the Italian warships which closed the convoy once more.

After the engagement in the morning the Italian cruisers had gone back to join up with their destroyers, one of wich had been badly damaged by HMS Marne and HMS Matchless. While preparing to take this destroyer in tow the Italians were disrupted by British aircraft. Malta had been able to sent a small torpedo aircraft force to attack them. Four Albacores followed by two Beauforts attacked them about 12 nautical miles south of Pantelleria at 1030 hours. Unfortunately without success.

The two cruisers with two destroyers then went south again hoping to find stagglers from the convoy. They found HMS Hebe, which was on her way back to rejoin the convoy, having left the tanker Kentucky in a sinking condition astern. HMS Hebe sighted the enemy a long way to the north at 1255 hours. In the next half an hour the enemy was able to close as to open fire on the small minesweeper and eventually she was hit.

On receiving Hebe’s enemy report, A/Capt. Hardy, left the convoy in HMS Cairo taking the three remaining ‘Fleet’ destroyers with him; HMS Ithuriel, HMS Marne and HMS Matchless. Besides the Hebe to protect there were other ships coming back from the scuttled merchantmen and also HMS Bedouin and HMS Partridge which, A/Capt. Hardy believed to be following the convoy.

At 1355 hours the Italians gave up the chase, presumably on sighting HMS Cairo and turned to engage a target to the westward. This could only be HMS Bedouin and HMS Partridge but A/Capt. Hardy felt bound to return to the convoy, then nearly 15 nautical miles off, though it meant leaving the damaged destroyers to their fate.

These two ships had been had been striving to preserve themselves for the King’s service ever since they had been crippled in the morning. HMS Partridge was ready to steam again by 0745 hours, three-quarters of an hour after being put out of action. She prepared to take HMS Bedouin in tow as that ship was entirely disabled. These preparations were disrupted by two Italian destroyers which had to be driven away. By 1000 hours however Bedouin was being towed by Partridge and the two ships were proceeding slowly towards the convoy which they had orders to join. They met it at 1145 hours. There was still hope to get one engine going in HMS Bedouin but later on it became evident that this hope had to be abandoned. It was then thought best to try to make it to Gibraltar.

At 1320 hours, the Italian Squadron came into sight again and two destroyers were apparently closing the two British destroyers while there were also enemy dive-bombers flying around. HMS Partridge therefore had no choice then to slip the tow and to lay smoke around HMS Bedouin. As the enemy cruisers approached, after their chase of HMS Hebe, HMS Partridge stood away to draw their fire and in this she succeeded. She was straddled from long range at 1400 hours. It was the intention the return to HMS Bedouin later but the latter ship was torpedoed by an Italian torpedo bomber at 1425 hours and she sank within a few minutes but not before shooting down the attacker. The enemy surface ships also sank the derelict Kentucky and Burdwan around the same time. Kentucky was finished off by the Oriani while Burdwan was possibly sunk by the Ascari.

A/Capt. Hardy rejoined the convoy at 1530 hours after the last encounter with the Italian squadron. At 1730 hours, HMS Welshman rejoined the convoy south of Linosa coming from Malta. She had arrived there in the morning and was sent out again by Vice-Admiral Leatham as soon as she had landed her cargo.

Then at 1910 hours, there was another air attack. Upon that time the enemy had been kept away by the strong fighter escort from Malta directed by the radar in HMS Cairo. Twelve German bombers managed to close and near misses were obtained on HMS Welshman, HMS Matchless and the merchant Troilus.

A last attempt was foiled at 2040 hours by the fighters from Malta and the ships guns. There was now only one danger to be overcome, enemy mines.

HMS Liverpool

At 1420 hours, three torpedo aircraft made a final unsuccessful attempt to attack HMS Liverpool after which she, HMS Antelope and HMS Westcott were not again molested. That afternoon the tug HMRT Salvonia arrived from Gibraltar and they took over the tow. Antelope then joined Westcott as A/S screen. With Salvonia came also the A/S trawler HMS Lady Hogarth (T/Lt. S.G. Barnes, RNR).

'Force Y'.

At 2345 hours the Italian submarine Bronzo sighted an enemy escort vessel of the 'Kingfisher-class' which opened fire on the submarine in position 36°50'N, 00°10'E. This was HMS Coltsfoot. The submarine was depth-charged and escaped by going down to 117 metres.

16 June 1942.

It had been intended that the minesweepers would be ahead of the convoy when approaching Malta but owning to mistakes the convoy arrived first. The result was that one of the two remaining merchant vessels, the Orari, the destroyer HMS Matchless, two escort destroyers HMS Badsworth, ORP Kujawiak and the minesweeper HMS Hebe hit mines. Fortunately damage was light except for ORP Kujawiak which unfortunately sank in three minutes.

After having taken on board ammunition at Malta, HMS Cairo, HMS Ithuriel, HMS Marne, HMS Middleton and HMS Blankney departed the island in the evening to return to Gibraltar.

HMS Liverpool

Shortly after 0800 hours, the destroyer HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN) joined the A/S screen of the disabled HMS Liverpool. Two more vessels came out from Gibraltar to join the A/S screen, these were the corvette HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RD, RNR) which joined around 0940 hours. At 1530 hours, the motor launch ML 458 joined.

17 June 1942.

As HMS Cairo and the two destroyers and two escort destroyers were skirting along the African coast they were shadowed from sunrise onward. They were however not attacked until midday, when they were passed the Galita bank. From then until 2030 hours that evening, German bombers pestered them continuously. The Germans came sometimes in flights of six, though generally in flights of two and three. Main target seems to have been HMS Ithuriel which had a tough time and sustained some minor damage due to leaks from near misses. During the attacks one enemy bomber was shot down by HMS Cairo.

At 2017 hours, they joined with Vice-Admiral Curteis with HMS Kenya and HMS Charybdis in position 37°30’N, 04°30’E. After leaving the convoy in the evening of the 14th, the Vice-Admiral had taken ‘Force W’ some 400 nautical miles to the west of Sardinia in order to avoid observation and attack while waiting for the return of ‘Force X’. His ships had however been shadowed on the 15th and was then attacked by two small groups of torpedo aircraft. Hurricanes from HMS Eagle forced them to drop their torpedoes from long range. They were also able to shoot down one of the attackers.

From the morning of the 16th to noon on the 17th, Vice-Admiral Curteis, cruised with HMS Kenya and HMS Charybdis near the rendez-vous position. HMS Malaya both aircraft carriers and the remaining destroyers had been sent to Gibraltar around 0800/16. They arrived at Gibraltar around 1030/17.

Around noon on the 17th, Vice-Admiral Curteis, with his two cruisers proceeded eastwards to meet up with A/Capt. Hardy’s force after which they proceeded in company to Gibraltar where they arrived in the early evening of the 18th.

HMS Liverpool

HMS Liverpool and her escorts safely arrived at Gibraltar late in the afternoon of the 17th. (24)

4 Jul 1942
During 4/5 July 1942, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) conducted exercises off Gibraltar. These included night exercises. She also ran over the D/G range several times. (25)

11 Jul 1942
During 10/11 July 1942, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) conducted exercises off Gibraltar. (25)

14 Jul 1942

Operation Pinpoint.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

Around 0500B/14, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair) and HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded eastwards.

Between 0613B/15 and 0753B/15, 32 Spitfires were flown off in four flights from approximate position 37°59'N, 03°05'E. One aircraft crashed on flying off, the pilot being saved. The remaining 31 Spitfires landed safely at Malta.

The force was reported by enemy aircraft at 0830B/19 and again at 0845B/19 but no enemy air attacks followed.

The Force returned to Gibraltar in the morning of 16 July 1942. (26)

20 Jul 1942

Operation Insect.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

Around 0530B/14, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair) and HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded eastwards.

At 0332B/21, in position 37°48'N, 02°05'E four heavy underwater explosions were heard, one very close to HMS Eagle, and a green flash was seen. It was presumed that these were caused by torpedoes from a submarine attack. This was indeed correct as the Italian submarine Dandolo had fired four torpedoes during a surface attack from 2000 yards. On firing the submarine had dived and two explosions were heard within three seconds from each other which were though to be hits but in fact all torpedoes had missed.

29 Spitfires were flown off from position 38°01'N, 03°05'E, between 0726B/21 and 0850B/21. One was unserviceable and did not take off, and the long range petrol tank of another developed a defect after the plane had taken off. The pilot was ordered to bail out, but his parachute failed to open and he was killed. The remaining 28 Spitfires, proceeded in four flights. All landed safely at Malta.

The Force was sighted by enemy aircraft at 0830B/21 and 0900B/21. The former was engaged by gunfire and the latter was damaged by Sea Hurricane flown off from HMS Eagle. The Force arrived back at Gibraltar on 22 July 1942. (26)

24 Jul 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) is docked at Gibraltar. (25)

28 Jul 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) is undocked. (25)

31 Jul 1942
The aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) conducted exercises off Gibraltar. They were escorted by destroyer but their names are currently not known to us except for one being HMS Mansfield (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RNR).

The exercises were later cancelled and all ships returned to Gibraltar. (27)

2 Aug 1942

Convoy WS 21S and Operation Pedestal.

Convoy WS 21S and the concentration of the escort forces

Convoy WS 21S departed the Clyde on 2 August 1942. The convoy was made up of the following ships;
American freighters;
Almeria Lykes (7773 GRT, built 1940), Santa Elisa (8379 GRT, built 1941), British freighters;
Brisbane Star (12791 GRT, built 1937), Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938), Deucalion (7516 GRT, built 1930), Dorset (10624 GRT, built 1934), Empire Hope (12688 GRT, built 1941), Glenorchy (8982 GRT, built 1939), Melbourne Star (11076 GRT, built 1936), Port Chalmers (8535 GRT, built 1933), Rochester Castle (7795 GRT, built 1937), Waimarama (12843 GRT, built 1938), Wairangi (12436 GRT, built 1935), and the American tanker;
Ohio (9264 GRT, built 1940).

These ships were escorted by light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. S.H. Paton, RN, flying the flag of the Rear-Admiral 10th C.S., H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Venomous (Cdr. H.W. Falcon-Stewart, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. P.W. Gretton, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Malcolm (A/Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy) Lord Teynham, RN), HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) and HMS Zetland (Lt. J.V. Wilkinson, RN).

A cover force made up of departed Scapa Flow on the same day. This force was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Somali (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN). They were to rendez-vous with convoy WS 21S at sea on 3 August. HMS Penn was delayed by a defect and after topping off with fuel at Moville, Northern Ireland overtook the force and joined at sea.

The aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CB, CVO, DSO, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN) meanwhile had already left Scapa Flow on 31 July 1941 to rendez-vous with the convoy. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN). These ships were joined at sea on 1 August 1942 by the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, RN), loaded with spare fighter aircraft for the operation, and her two escorts the destroyers HMS Buxton (Lt.Cdr. I.J. Tyson, RD, RNR) and HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Gray, RNR). HMS Argus and her two escorting destroyers had departed the Clyde on 31 July. HMS Buxton later split off and proceeded towards Canada and HMS Sardonyx proceeded to Londonderry.

The last ships to take part in the operation to depart the U.K. (Clyde around midnight during the night of 4/5 August) were the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), loaded with Hurricane fighters for Malta, and her escorts, the light cruiser HMS Manchester (Capt. H. Drew, DSC, RN) and the Polish destroyer ORP Blyscawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski, ORP). They were joined at sea, around dawn, by HMS Sardonyx coming from Londonderry. The destroyers parted company around midnight during the night of 5/6 August. They arrived at Londonderry on 7 August. HMS Furious and HMS Manchester then joined convoy WS 21S around midnight of the next night but HMS Manchester parted company shortly afterwards to proceed ahead of the convoy and fuel at Gibraltar.

On 1 August 1942 the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN), light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. C.P. Frend, RN) and the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) departed Freetown to proceed to a rendez-vous position off the Azores.

On 5 August 1942, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and the the destroyers HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) departed Gibraltar also to the rendez-vous position off the Azores.

The convoy conducted maneuvering and AA exercises with the escorts between the Azores and Gibraltar during the period of 6 to 9 August. (Operation Berserk). Also dummy air attacks were carried out by aircraft from the carriers.

Passage of the Straits of Gibraltar and organization of escort forces.

The convoy then passed the Straits of Gibraltar during the night of 9/10 August 1942 in dense fog but despite this the convoy was detected by German and Italian spies and reported.

After passing the Straits of Gibraltar the convoy was organized as follows;
The actual convoy was protected a large force of warships until the whole force would split up before entering the Sicilian narrows after which ‘Force X’ under command of Rear-Admiral Sir H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN was to accompany the convoy to the approaches to Malta where they would be met by the Malta Minesweeping Flotilla, which was then to sweep the convoy into the harbour. Force X was made up of the following ships:
Licht cruisers: HMS Nigeria (flagship), HMS Kenya,, HMS Manchester.
AA cruiser: HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN).
Destroyers: HMS Ashanti, HMS Fury, HMS Foresight, HMS Icarus, HMS Intrepid, HMS Pathfinder and HMS Penn.
Escort destroyers: HMS Derwent, HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN), HMS Bramham (Lt. E.F. Baines, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN) and HMS Wilton (Lt. A.P. Northey, RN). Also the rescue tug HMS Jaunty was to be part of this force.

After the escort was to be split up cover was provided by ‘Force Z’ under Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN. This force was made up of the following ships:
Battleships: HMS Nelson (flagship) and HMS Rodney.
Aircraft carriers: HMS Victorious, HMS Indomitable and HMS Eagle.
Light cruisers: HMS Phoebe, HMS Sirius and HMS Charybdis.
Destroyers: HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Lookout, HMS Eskimo, HMS Somali, HMS Tartar, HMS Quentin, HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair), HMS Wishart and HMS Vansittart. Escort destroyer: HMS Zetland. Also attached were the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (for Operation Bellows, the launching of Hurricane fighters for Malta. HMS Furious only carried four Albacore aircraft for A/S searches after the Hurricanes had been launched) and the ‘spare’ destroyers HMS Keppel (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Malcolm, HMS Venomous, HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott, HMS Wolverine, HMS Wrestler and HMS Amazon. These ‘spare’ destroyers were to take the place of destroyers in the screen ‘Force Z’ if needed, escort HMS Furious during her return passage to Gibraltar after she had completed Operation Bellows and / or strengthen the escort of ‘Force R’.

Then there was also ‘Force R’, the fuelling force. This force was made up of the following ships:
Corvettes: HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RD, RNR), HMS Spiraea (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Miller, DSC, RNR), HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR) and HMS Coltsfoot (T/Lt. the Hon. W.K. Rous, RNVR).
Rescue tug: HMS Salvonia.
RFA tankers: RFA Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941, Master D.B.C. Ralph) and RFA Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941, Master R.T. Duthie).

Before we give an account of the passage of the main convoy we will now first describe the operations taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean (Operations MG 3 and MG 4), the launching of the Hurricane fighters for Malta by HMS Furious (Operation Bellows) and the return convoy from Malta (Operation Ascendant) as well as on submarine operations / dispositions.

Diversion in the Eastern Mediterranean.

As part of the plan for Operation Pedestal the Mediterranean Fleet had to carry out a diversion in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean. Before we go to the operations in the Western Mediterranean we will first give an account of the events in the Eastern Mediterranean.

It was at this time not possible to sent any supplies from Egypt to Malta as all supplies and forces were much needed for the upcoming land battle at El Alamein it was agreed that ‘a dummy convoy’ would be sent towards Malta with the object of preventing the enemy to direct the full weight of their air and naval power towards the Western Mediterranean.

In the evening of 10 August 1942 a ‘convoy’ (MG 3) of three merchant ships departed Port Said escorted by three cruisers and ten destroyers. Next morning one more merchant ship departed Haifa escorted by two cruisers and five destroyers. The two forces joined that day (the 11th) and then turned back dispersing during the night. The Italian fleet however did not go to sea to attack ‘the bait’.

The forces taking part in this operation were:
From Port Said:
Merchant vessels City of Edinburgh (8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (8039 GRT, built 1938) and City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937) escorted by the light cruisers HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral I.G. Glennie, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. R.J.R. Dendy, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Dulverton(Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN), HMS Hursley (Lt. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN) and HMS Belvoir (Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and Bar, RN).

From Haifa:
Merchant vessel Ajax (7797 GRT, built 1931) escorted by the light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, RN, flagship of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), the destroyers HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J. A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. G.E. Fardell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Tetcott (Lt. H.R. Rycroft, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN).

After dark on 11 August 1942 the force turned back and the City of Pretoria returned to Port Said escorted by HMS Eridge and HMS Hursley. The City of Edinburgh, escorted by HMS Beaufort and HMS Belvoir proceeded to Haifa. The City of Lincoln escorted by HMS Dulverton and HMS Hurworth proceeded to Beirut and finally the Ajax, escorted by HMS Tetcott and HMS Croome returned to Haifa. HMS Dido had to return to Port Said with hull defects. She was escorted by HMS Pakenham, HMS Paladin and HMS Jervis.

HMS Cleopatra, HMS Arethusa, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu, HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin then proceeded to carry out another diversion (Operation MG 4). They bombarded Rhodos harbour and the Alliotti Flour Mills during the night of 12/13 August but did little damage. On the way back HMS Javelin attacked a submarine contact in position 34°45’N, 31°04’E between 0654 and 0804 hours. She reported that there was no doubt that the submarine was sunk but no Axis submarines were operating in this area so the attack must have been bogus. This force returned to Haifa at 1900/13.

Operation Bellows.

During operation Bellows, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious, started 37 Spitfire which were to proceed to Malta, when south of the Balearic Islands. The Admiralty had decided to carry out this operation at the same time as Operation Pedestal.

HMS Furious remained with the convoy until 1200/11. She then launched the Spitfires for Malta in 5 batches between 1230 and 1515 hours. During these flying off operations she acted independently with the destroyers HMS Lookout and HMS Lightning. After having launched the last batch of Spitfires she briefly re-joined to convoy until around 1700 hours when she split off and set course for Gibraltar escorted by the destroyers HMS Malcolm, HMS Wolverine and HMS Wrestler. These were joined shortly afterwards by HMS Keppel and HMS Venomous.

Around 0100/12, HMS Wolverine, rammed and sank the Italian submarine Dagabur which was trying to attack HMS Furious. Around 0200 hours, HMS Wolverine reported that she was stopped due to the damage she had sustained in the ramming. HMS Malcolm was detached to assist her.

At 1530/12, the destroyer HMS Vidette joined the screen. The force then entered Gibraltar Bay around 1930/12. The damaged HMS Wolverine arrived at Gibraltar at 1230/13 followed by HMS Malcolm around 1530/13.

Operation Ascendant

On 10 August 1942 the empty transports Troilus (7648 GRT, built 1921) and Orari (10107 GRT, built 1931) departed Malta after dark for Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN). They first proceeded to the south of Lampedusa, then hugged the Tunisian coast as far as Galita Island. Near Cape Bon they encountered the Italian destroyer Lanzerotto Malocello that was laying a minefield. They had a brief gunfight but this was soon ended as both sides were thinking the enemy was Vichy-French. The remained of the passage to Gibraltar was uneventful and the convoy arrived at Gibraltar shortly before noon on 14 August 1942.

Submarine operations / dispositions.
Eight submarines took part in the operation; these were HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN), HMS P 31 (Lt. J.B.de B. Kershaw, DSO, RN), HMS P 34 (Lt. P.R.H. Harrison, DSC, RN), HMS P 42 (Lt. A.C.G. Mars, RN), HMS P 44 (Lt. T.E. Barlow, RN), HMS P 46 (Lt. J.S. Stevens, DSC, RN), HMS P 211 (Cdr. B. Bryant, DSC, RN), HMS P 222 (Lt.Cdr. A.J. MacKenzie, RN). Two of these were to carry out normal dived patrol to the north of Sicily, one off Palermo, the other off Milazzo which is futher to the east. The other six submarines were given alternative patrol lines south of Pantelleria, one od which they were to take up at dawn on 13 August 1942, according to the movements of enemy surface ships that might threathen the convoy from the westward. When the convoy had passed the patrol line, which it should have done by that time, the submarines were to proceed on the surface parallel to the convoy as a screen and to dive away clear of the convoy at noon. It was expressly intended that they should be seen on the surface and reported by enemy aircraft in order to deter enemy warships from attacking the convoy.

Enemy warships did go to sea but as soon as it was clear that the enemy ships could not reach the convoy the sunmarines were ordered to dive and retire. These six sumarines had no contact with the enemy. One of the the two submarines off the north coast of Sicily, HMS P 42, managed to torpedo two Italian cruisers near Stromboli on the morning of 13 August 1942.

Now we return to the main convoy to Malta.

Passage eastwards after passing the Straits of Gibraltar.

10 and 11 August 1942.

After passing through the Straits of Gibraltar in the early hours of 10 August 1942, in dense fog, the convoy was first sighted by an Italian passenger aircraft, which sighted the convoy in the afternoon of the same day. German reconnaissance aircraft started shadowing the convoy from dawn on the 11th, and thereafter they or Italian aircraft kept the convoy under continuous observation, despite the effort of the fighters from the carriers to shoot them down or drive them off. At 1315 hours, HMS Eagle, was hit an sunk by torpedoes from the German submarine U-73 which had penetrated the destroyer screen. At that moment there were thirteen destroyers in the screen, the remainder was away from the main convoy, escorting HMS Furious during the flying off operations of the Hurricane fighters for Malta or oiling from and screening ‘Force R’ which was several miles away. Between 1430/10 and and 2030/11 no less then three cruisers and twenty-four destroyers fuelled from the two oilers of ‘Force R’.

At the time of the torpedoing of HMS Eagle the convoy was in four columns, zigzagging at 13 knots, with the heavy ships stationed close round it and a destroyer screen ahead. HMS Eagle was on the starboard quarter of the convoy. She was hit on her starboard side by four torpedoes which had dived through the destroyer screen and the convoy columns undetected and then torpedoed and sank the Eagle in position 38°05’N, 03°02’E (Another source gives 03°12’E but this might be a typo). The carrier sank quickly in about 8 minutes, 926 of her crew, including the Commanding Officer, were rescued by the destroyers HMS Laforey and HMS Lookout and the rescue tug HMS Jaunty. At the time of her sinking, HMS Eagle had four aircraft on patrol. These landed on the other carriers. All other aircraft were lost with the ship. The survivors picked up were later transferred to the destroyers HMS Keppel, HMS Malcolm and HMS Venomous that were to escort HMS Furious back to Gibraltar. The tug HMS Jaunty that had been involved in picking up survivors was never able to rejoin the convoy due to her slow speed.

Late in the afternoon air attacks were expected so Vice-Admiral Syfret ordered the destroyer to form an all-round screen. Indeed the air attacks started around sunset, 2045 hours. The last destroyers had just returned from oiling from ‘Force R’. The enemy aircraft that were attacking were 36 German bombers and torpedo aircraft, Ju 88’s and He 111’s, most of which attacked the convoy but a few attacked ‘Force R’ to the southward. The Junkers arrived first, diving down from 8000 feet to 2000 / 3000 feet to drop their bombs. They claimed to have hit an aircraft carrier and one of the merchant ships. Then the Heinkels attacked, they claimed to have torpedoed a cruiser but during the attacks no ship was hit. The British fighter cover was unable to attack / find the enemy in the failing light. Four enemy aircraft were claimed shot down by the ships AA fire but it appears only two JU 88’s were in fact shot down.

12 August 1942

At 0915/12 another wave of German aircraft attacked the convoy. Some twenty or more JU 88’s approached the convoy out of the sun ahead. They were intercepted by fighters about 25 miles from the convoy. About a dozen got through to the convoy, making high-level or shallow dive-bombing attacks individually but without any result. Eight German aircraft were claimed to be shot down by the fighters and two more by AA guns from the ships. The fighters meanwhile were also busy dealng with shadowers, three of which are claimed to have been shot down before the morning attack. Around this time destroyers were also busy with numerous submarine contact which were attacked by depth charges.

Around noon the enemy launched heavy air attacks from the Sardinian airfields. Seventy aircraft approached which were heavily escorted by fighters. They attacked in stages and employed new methods.

First ten Italian torpedo-bombers were each to drop some sort of circling torpedo or mine a few hundred yards ahead of the British force, while eight fighter bombers made dive-bombing and machine-gun attacks. The object at this stage was clearly to dislocate the formation of the force and to draw anti-aircraft fire, making the ships more vulnerable to a torpedo attack which soon followed with over forty aircraft. They attacked in two groups, one on either bow of the convoy. The next stage was a shallow dive-bombing attack by German aircraft, after which two Italian Reggiane 2001 fighters, each with a single heavy armour-piercing bomb were to dive bomb on one of the aircraft carriers, whilst yet another new form of attack was to be employed against the other carrier, but defects in the weapon prevented this attack from taking place.

The enemy attack went according to plan besides that the torpedo attack was only made half an our after the ‘mines’ were dropped instead of five minutes. British fighters met the minelaying aircraft, they shot down one of them as they approached. The remaining nine aircraft dropped their ‘mines’ at 1215 hours in the path of the force, which turned to avoid the danger. The mines were heard to explode several minutes later. Only three of the fighter-bombers of this stage of the attack appear to have reached as far the screen, but HMS Lightning had a narrow escape from their bombs.

The torpedo-aircraft appeared at 1245 hours. Their number were brought down a bit due to British fighters. The remaining aircraft, estimated at 25 to 30 machines, attacked from the port bow, port beam and starboard quarter. They dropped their torpedoes well outside the screen some 8000 yards from the merchant ships which they had been ordered to attack. The force turned 45° to port and then back to starboard to avoid the attack.

In the next stage, around 1318 hours, the German bombing attack, the enemy scored their one success. These aircraft were also intercepted on their way in but about a dozen of about twenty aircraft came through. They crossed the convoy from starboard to port and then dived to 3000 feet. They managed to damage the transport Deucalion which was leading the port wing column. More bombs fell close to several other ships.

Finally, at 1345 hours, the two Reggiane fighters approached HMS Victorious as if to land on. They looked like Hurricanes and HMS Victorious was at that time engaged in landing her own fighters. They managed to drop their bombs and one hit the flight deck amidships. Fortunately the bomb broke up without exploding. By the time HMS Victorious could open fire both fighters were out of range.

The Deucalion could no longer keep up with the convoy and was ordered to follow the inshore route along the Tunisian coast escorted by HMS Bramham. Two bombers found these ships late in the afternoon, but their bombs missed. At 1940 hours, however, near the Cani Rocks, two torpedo aircraft attacked and a torpedo hit the Deucalion. She caught fire and eventually blew up.

The convoy passed some 20 miles north of Galita Island and spent the afternoon avoiding enemy submarines which were known to be concentrated in these waters. There were innumerable reports of sightings and Asdic contacts and at least two submarines proved dangerous. At 1616 hours, HMS Pathfinder and HMS Zetland attacked one on the port bow of the convoy and hunted her until the convoy was out of reach. HMS Ithuriel, stationed on the quarter, then attacked, forced the enemy to surface and finally rammed her. She proved to be the Italian submarine Cobalto. Meanwhile HMS Tartar, on the starboard quarter, saw six torpedoes fired at close range at 1640 hours, and the next destroyer in the screen, HMS Lookout sighted a periscope. Together they attacked the submarine, continuing until it was no longer dangerous. There was no evidence this submarine was sunk.

At 1750 hours, HMS Ithuriel, which was on her way back to the convoy after sinking the Italian submarine Cobalto was attacked by a few dive-bombers, when still a dozen miles astern of the convoy. At this time the convoy came under attack by aircraft stationed on Sicily. This force numbered nearly 100 aircraft. Ju.87 dive-bombers as well as Ju.88’s and SM-79’s all with a strong escort of fighters. The enemy started attacking at 1835 hours, the bombers attacking from both ahead and astern which last was the direction of the sun. The torpedo aircraft came from ahead to attack on the starboard bow and beam of the convoy.

The Italian SM-79’s torpedo bombers dropped their torpedoes from ranges of about 3000 yards outside the destroyer screen, and once again the convoy turned away to avoid them. However the destroyer HMS Foresight was hit by a torpedo and disabled. The bombers chose HMS Indomitable as their main target. She was astern of HMS Rodney at the time on the port quarter of the convoy. Four Ju.88’s and eight Ju.87’s came suddenly out of the sun and dived steeply towards HMS Indomitable from astern. Some of the Ju.87 came down to 1000 feet and the carrier received three hits and her flight deck was put out of action. Her airborne fighters eventually had to land on HMS Victorious. HMS Rodney meanwhile had a narrow escape when a bomber attacked from ahead. One enemy aircraft was claimed to have been shot down by AA fire from the ships while the fighters claimed nine more although there were about twice as much enemy fighters in the air then British.

HMS Tartar took the damaged HMS Foresight in tow and proceeded westward for Gibraltar. Next day, as they were shadowed by enemy aircraft, and enemy submarines were known to be in the area, it was decided to scuttle the cripple before both ships might be lost. HMS Tartar then torpedoed HMS Foresight a few miles from Galita Island.

Passage through the narrows, 12-13 August 1942, and the loss off HMS Manchester.

These last air attacks took place about 20 nautical miles west of the Skerki Channel and at 1900 hours, when the attacks were clearly over, Vice-Admiral Syfret turned away with ‘Force Z’. It was now up to Rear-Admiral Burrough with ‘Force X’ to take the convoy to Malta.

At 2000 hours, when the convoy was changing it’s formation from four to two columns, the convoy was attacked by Italian submarines. The submarine Dessiè attacked a freighter with four torpedoes and claimed three hits. The sound of the torpedo hits was however not caused by her attack but by an attack by the Axum which hit three ships, HMS Nigeria, HMS Cairo and the tanker Ohio.

HMS Nigeria had to turn back to make for Gibraltar escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Derwent, HMS Wilton and HMS Bicester. Rear-Admiral Burrough transferred his flag to the destroyer HMS Ashanti. The stern of HMS Cairo had been blown off and she had to be sunk as she was beyond salvage with both engines also out of action. She was scuttled by HMS Pathfinder. The Ohio meanwhile managed to struggle on.

At this time the convoy was still trying to form up the the submarine attacks messed things up and right at thus time the convoy was once more attacked from the air in the growing dusk at 2030 hours. About 20 German aircraft, Ju-88’s made dive bombing and torpedo attacks, hitting the Empire Hope with a bomb and the Clan Ferguson and Brisbane Star with torpedoes. The first of these ships had to be sunk (by HMS Bramham, the second blew up but the last eventually reached Malta. Soon after this attack, at 2111 hours, HMS Kenya was torpedoed by the Italian submarine Alagi. She was able to evade three of the four torpedoes but was hit in the bow by the fouth. She was however able to remain with the convoy.

The situation was then as follows. HMS Kenya and HMS Manchester with two merchant ships, and with the minesweeping destroyers HMS Intrepid, HMS Icarus and HMS Fury sweeping ahead, had passed the Skerki Channel and were steering to pass Zembra Island on the way to Cape Bon. HMS Ashanti, with Rear-Admiral Burrough on board was fast overhauling these ships. The other two destroyers HMS Pathfinder, HMS Penn and the escort destroyer HMS Ledbury, were rounding up the remaining nine merchant ships. The escort destroyer HMS Bramham was also catching up after having escorted the single Deucalion until she sank.

On learing about the fate of HMS Nigeria and HMS Cairo, Vice-Admiral Syfret detached HMS Charybdis, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali to reinforce Rear-Admiral Burrough. It would take these ships several hourse to catch up with the convoy.

The main body of the convoy passed Cape Bon around midnight. Fourty minutes later enemy Motor Torpedo Boats appeared and started to attack. Their first victim was HMS Manchester which was torpedoed at 0120/13 by the Italian MS 16 or MS 22. She had to be scuttled by her own crew. Many of her ships company landed in Tunisia and were interned by the Vichy-French but about 300 were picked up by destroyers (first by HMS Pathfinder, and later by HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali. These last two destoyers then set off towards Gibraltar.)

Four and possibly five of the merchant ships were also hit by the Motor Torpedo Boats. These were the Wairangi, Rochester Castle, Almeria Lykes, Santa Elisa and probably the Glenorchy. They were attacked between 0315 and 0430 hours about 15 nautical miles south-east of Kelibia whilst taking a short cut to overhaul the main body of the convoy. Four were lost, only the Rochester Castle survived and she managed to catch up with the main body of the convoy at 0530 hours. The Glenorchy was sunk by the Italian MS 31, the other four, of which the Rochester Castle survived as mentioned earlier, were hit by the German S 30 and S 36 as well as the Italian MAS 554 and MAS 557.

Shortly before 0530 hours HMS Charybdis, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali had joined the main body of the convoy making the force now two cruisers and seven destroyers with the transports Rochester Castle, Waimarama and Melbourne Star. The damaged tanker Ohio was slowly catching up. With her was the escort destroyer HMS Ledbury. Astern of the main body was the Port Chalmers escorted by the destroyer HMS Penn and the escort destroyer HMS Bramham. The destroyers recued the crew of the Santa Elisa when the passed by the abandoned ship which was afterwards finished off by a German bomber. The Dorset was proceeding without escort and lastly the damaged Brisbane Star was still keeping close to the Tunisian coast independently, intending to steer towards Malta after nightfall.

At 0730 hours, Rear-Admiral Burrough, sent back HMS Tartar and HMS Somali to Kelibia to assist HMS Manchester and then go to Gibraltar. When they arrived they found out that the Manchester had been scuttled several hours earlier so they rescued those of her crew that had not reached the shore yet and then made off to Gibraltar as ordered. Besides crew of the Manchester they also picked up survivors from the Almeria Lykes and Wairangi.

The next encounter with the enemy was an air attack on the main body of the convoy at 0800 hours by German bombers. About 12 Ju.88’s made a shallow diving attack coming down from 6000 feet to 2000 feet to drop their bombs. Two dived on the Waimarama hitting her several times and she blew up immediately, one of the bombers was even destroyed in the explosion. HMS Ledbury saved some of her crew out of the blazing sea. At 0925 hours, when the Ohio, Port Chalmers and Dorset where with the main body again, a few Ju.87’s escorted by Italian fighters attacked. They dived down to 1500 to 1000 feet. HMS Kenya leading the port column, and the Ohio last ship but one in the starboard column, had narrow escapes. One of the enemy aircraft crashed on board the Ohio just after having released it’s bomb after being damaged by gunfire from the Ohio and HMS Ashanti. Another aircraft was claimed to have been shot down by fighters from Malta that had been patrolling overhead since daybreak.

Arrivals at Malta 13-15 August 1942.

At 1050 hours, about 20 bombers, mostly Ju.88’s with a few Ju.87’s, came in to attack. Target was the Ohio and she received four or five near misses and her engines were disabled. At the same time the Rochester Castle in the port column was near-missed and set on fire but she continued with the convoy. The Dorset which was astern of her was hit and stopped. The convoy went on leaving the Dorset behind with the Ohio and two destroyers.

At 1125 hours the last air attack on the main body took place. Five Italian SM.79’s attacked with torpedoes and almost hit the Port Chalmers as the torpedo got stuck in the paravane. Further attacks on the main body were held of by fighters from Malta. At 1430 hours, four minesweepers from Malta joined the main body of the convoy, these were HMS Speedy (Lt.Cdr. A.E. Doran, RN, with the group’s commander A/Cdr. H.J.A.S. Jerome, RN on board), HMS Hebe, HMS Rye and HMS Heyte. Also with them were seven Motor Launches; ML 121, ML 126, ML 134, ML 135, ML 168, ML 459 and ML 462. HMS Rye and two of the ML’s were sent towards the damaged Ohio which was ‘vital for Malta’, according to A/Cdr. Jerome.

At 1600 hours, Rear-Admiral Burrough, set course to the west with his two cruisers and with five destroyers. The Port Chalmers, Melbourne Star and Rochester Castle arrived in Grand Harbour around 1800 hours with the force of A/Cdr. Jerome. The Rochester Castle was by that time very low in the water, she had just made it into port on time.

Out were still the Ohio, Dorset and the Brisbane Star. The valuable Ohio had been helpless with HMS Penn and HMS Bramham. When HMS Rye arrived at 1730 hours, HMS Penn took the Ohio in tow. Meanwhile HMS Bramham was sent to the Dorset but soon afterwards German bombers came again and the ships were attacked repeatedly until dark. Both merchantman were hit around 1900 hours and the Dorset sank.

At daylight on the 14th HMS Ledbury arrived to help bringing the Ohio to Malta. HMS Speedy also soon arrived on the scene with two ML’s. The rest of his force he had sent to search for the Brisbane Star. At 1045 hours, enemy aircraft made their last attempt, causing the parting of the tow. Fighter from Malta shot down two of the attackers. The tow was passed again and the slow procession went on and in the morning of the 15th the vital tanker finally reached Malta.

The Brisbane Star had by then also arrived. She left the Tunisian coast at dusk on the 13th. Aircraft had attacked her unsuccessfully and one of the attackers was shot down by a Beaufighter escort that had been sent from Malta. She arrived at Malta in the afternoon of the 14th.

Italian surface ships to operate against the convoy ?

The convoy had experienced the violence of the enemy in every shape except that of an attack by large surface ships. Yet Italian cruisers and destroyers had been at sea to intercept and attack it. Two light cruiser had left Cagliari in the evening of 11 August 1942 and the heavy cruisers Gorizia and Bolzano from Messina, and a light cruiser from Naples had sailed on the morning of the 12th. That evening reconnaissance aircraft reported one heavy and two light cruisers with eight destroyers about 80 nautical miles to the north of the western tip of Sicily and steering south. It would have been possible for this force to meet the convoy at dawn on the 13th so the shadowing aircraft was therefore ordered in plain language to illuminate and attack. This apparently influenced the Italians as they had limited air cover and they turned back at 0130/13 when near Cape San Vito. At 0140 hours the aircraft reported that it had dropped its bombs but no hits had been obtained. Similar orders were signalled, in plain language, to relief shadowers and to report the position of the enemy force to the benefit of imaginary Liberator bombers in case the Italians would change their minds and turn back. They however held on to the eastward.

The submarine HMS P 42 sighted them around 0800/13 off Stromboli and attacked with four torpedoes claiming two hits. She had in fact hit the heavy cruiser Bolzano which was able to proceed northwards and the light cruiser Muzio Attendolo which managed to reach Messina with her bows blown off. The other cruisers went to Naples. Following the attack P 42 was heavily depth charged by the destroyers but managed to escape.

In fact the following Italian ships had been at sea; heavy cruisers Gorizia, Trieste, Bolzano, light cruisers Eugenio di Savoia Raimondo Montecuccoli, Muzio Attendolo. They were escorted by eleven destroyers; Ascari, Aviere, Camicia Nera, Corsaro, Fuceliere, Geniere, Legionaro, Vincenzo Gioberti, Alfredo Oriani, Grecale and Maestrale.

The return to Gibraltar.

The British ships returning to Gibraltar had better fortune. Having left the convoy off Malta in the afternoon of the 13th, they rounded Cape Bon around 0130/14 and from that point until past Zembra Island they successful ran the gauntled of E-boats laying in wait.

at 0450/14, near the Fratelli Rocks, a submarine fired torpedoes at HMS Ashanti from the surface. She was nearly rammed by HMS Kenya, which was next astern of the ‘flagship’ (Rear-Admiral Burrough was still in HMS Ashanti). The inevitable shadowers arrived soon after daylight to herald their air attacks that began at 0730 hours. They lasted until around 1315 hours. German bombers came in first with three attemps by a few Ju.88’s. This was followed by a more severe attack with about 30 bombers, Ju-88’s and Ju-87’s between 1030 and 1050 hours. An hour later 15 Savoia high-level bombers attacked followed until 1315 hours by torpedo-carrying Savoia’s. Around 20 aircraft attacking single or in pairs. Also aircraft are though to be laying mines ahead. Several ships were near missed, but no further damage was sustained. After these attacks the British were left alone and in the evening they joined ‘Force Z’.

Vice-Admiral Syfret had gone as far west as 01’E where he ordered the damaged carrier HMS Indomitable to proceed to Malta with HMS Rodney and a destroyer screen made up of HMS Ithuriel, HMS Antelope, HMS Amazon, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart and HMS Zetland. He then turned back to the east to make rendez-vous with Rear-Admiral Burrough. HMS Rodney, HMS Indomitable, HMS Ithuriel, HMS Antelope, HMS Amazon, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart and HMS Zetland arrived at Gibraltar in the evening of the 14th.

A few hours before they arrived the damaged HMS Nigeria and her escort had also entered port, as had HMS Tartar, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali. On her way back HMS Nigeria had been attacked by torpedo-bombers and a submarine but she had not been hit.

Conclusion.

Out of the fourteen ships that had sailed only five arrived ‘safe’ at Malta. This was not a very high score also given the very heavy escort that had been provided also taken in mind that an aircraft carrier, a light cruiser, an AA cruiser an a destroyer had been lost and two heavy cruiser had been damaged. But the convoy had to meet very heavy air attacks by over 150 bombers and 80 torpedo aircraft, all in the space of two days. Also these aircraft were protected by fighter in much greater strength that the carriers and Malta could provide. And there were also the enemy submarines and E-boats.

The spirit in which to operation was carried out appears in Vice-Admiral Syfret’s report: ‘ Tribute has been paid to the personnel of His Majesty’s Ships, both the officers and men will desire to give first place to the conduct, courage, and determination of the masters, officers, and men of the merchant ships. The steadfast manner in which these ships pressed on their way to Malta through all attacks, answering every maneuvering order like a well trained fleet unit, was a most inspiring sight. Many of these fine men and their ships were lost. But the memory of their conduct will remain an inspiration to all who were privileged to sail with them. ‘ (28)

16 Aug 1942

Operation Baritone.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

Around 0400B/16, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Somali (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair), HMS Keppel (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Malcolm (A/Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Venomous (Cdr. H.W. Falcon-Stewart, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) and HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded eastwards. They were followed at 0545B/16 by the destroyer HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) which had not been ready to sail earlier. She was then was to overtake the Force.

Between 0730B/17 and 0930B/17, flying off of the 32 Spitfires took place in approximate position 37°31'N, 02°51'E. One plane crashed on taking off and the pilot was killed. Two other pilots baled out owing to defects and both were saved. 29 aircraft landed safely at Malta.

The Force was unobserved throughout the operation, and arrived back at Gibraltar around 1000B/18. (29)

1 Sep 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) conducted exercises off Gibraltar. (30)

10 Sep 1942
Around 2150A/10, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar for a patrol to the west of Portugal as a suspected blockade breaker had been reported by a Catalina aircraft in approximate position 42°00'N, 15°00'W, steering 235° at 10 knots at 1825A/10.

The destroyer HMS Verity (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), on passage from Halifax (departed 1930Z/3) to Gibraltar (arrived 1800Z/14) via the Azores where she had fuelled on the 9th, was ordered to search to prudent limit of endurance. (31)

14 Sep 1942
Around 0730A/14, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) returned to Gibraltar from patrol. (30)

29 Sep 1942
Around 2100A/29, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar for a patrol to the west of Portugal as a suspected blockade breaker / supply vessel that had reported by a reconnaissance aircraft in approximate position 43°10'N, 12°16'W, steering 270° at 7 to 10 knots at 1333A/29.

Originally it had been indented that she was to provide cover for a tanker convoy en-route from Trinidad to Gibraltar. (31)

1 Oct 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) reported she had encountered very bad weeather conditions and that she hove to in position 38°06'N, 15°50'W after heaving sustained weather damage and two casualties, one rating killed and one wounded. She later reported that the weather had moderated and that she was steering 270° at 20 knots. (32)

2 Oct 1942
At 1600A/2, reconnaissance aircraft reported a medium sized ship, about 4000 tons, thought to be the Italian blockade breaker Pietro Orseolo (6338 GRT, built 1939) in position 44°08'N, 06°39'W, course 250°, speed 10 knots.

The submarine P 552 (Lt. K.H. Joy, RNR) was ordered by to patrol in the vicinity of position 43°11'N, 12°20'W and the cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) was instructed to endeavour to intercept, but stated that she was able to do so until dark on 3 July due to lack of fuel.

The following day the were informed that an enemy ship had been sighted in position 43°10'N, 09°50'W, course 090°, speed 15 knots. (33)

5 Oct 1942
Around 1115A/5 HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) returned to Gibraltar from patrol with weather damage. She had not been able to intercept any of the ships that had been reported.

Before entering harbour she made several runs over the D/G range. (32)

8 Oct 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) entered No.1 Dock at the Gibraltar Dockyard but she does not appears to have docked down. (34)

12 Oct 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar to patrol off the west coast of Spain / Portugal to search for enemy blockade breakers. (32)

13 Oct 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) reported that she was proceeding to the Cape Finisterre area to try to intercept an enemy tanker reported and attacked by aircraft at 1745A/12. (32)

14 Oct 1942
Reconnaissance aircraft reported a 5000 tons enemy merchant vessel, thought to be Irene (4793 GRT, built 1938, former Norwegian Silvaplana) in position 46°50'N, 15°40'W, course 260°, speed 10 knots at 1300A/14. The cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) was ordered by the Admiralty to proceed to intercept. Sloops HMS Egret (Cdr. C.R.S. Farquhar, RN) and HMS Banff (Lt.Cdr. P.S. Evans, RN) were also endeavouring to intercept. HMS Charybdis stated that search could be carried out only until dusk/14th when she would have to proceed to Ponta Delgada to fuel. (32)

15 Oct 1942
Around 1900A/15, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Ponta Delgada, Azores to fuel. She was ordered to return with despatch to Gibraltar on completion of fuelling. (32)

16 Oct 1942
Around 0915A/16, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Ponta Delgada to return to Gibraltar. (32)

18 Oct 1942
Around 0730A/18, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from Ponta Delgada. She was immediately docked in No.2 Dock at the Gibraltar Dockyard. (32)

22 Oct 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) is undocked. (34)

28 Oct 1942

Operation Train.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

Around 0830A/28, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Verity, (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Vanoc (A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. A.H.T. Johns, RN), ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski, ORP) and the escort destroyers HMS Bramham (Lt. E.F. Baines, RN), HMS Cowdray (Lt.Cdr. C.W. North, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded eastwards.

Between roughly 0730A/28 and 0930A/28, 29 Spitfires were flown off by HMS Furious.

The Force arrived back at Gibraltar around 1500A/30. (35)

5 Nov 1942

' Force O ', made up of the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN), AA ship HMS Tynwald (Capt.(Retd.) P.G. Wodehouse, DSO, RN), destroyer ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski, ORP) and the escort destroyers HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN), HMS Wheatland (Lt.Cdr. R. de L. Brooke, DSC, RN) and HMS Wilton (Lt. A.P. Northey, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to provide cover for ships of the Eastern Task Force, en-route to and during the landings near Algiers.

Around 1000A/6, HMS Tynwald, ORP Blyscawica, HMS Lamerton, HMS Wheatland and HMS Wilton joined convoy KMF A 1 while the destroyers HMS Broke (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Layard, RN), HMS Malcolm (A/Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) which had been with the convoy joined ' Force O '. Around the same time the escort carrier HMS Avenger (Cdr. A.P. Colthurst, RN), which had been with convoy KMS A1, joined ' Force O '.

Around 0913Z/7, the destroyer HMS Clare (Lt.Cdr. L.H. Landman, RN) joined ' Force O '.

The escorts varied from time to time until their return to Gibraltar.

Around 1500A/8, HMS Sheffield was detached for bombardment duties. The target she was to bombard however surrendered shortly before fire would be opened. HMS Sheffield then rejoined ' Force O ' around 1800A/8.

Around 1600A/9, HMS Sheffield parted company to join the Force destinated for a landing at Bougie (Operation Perpetual) but as this landing was postponed due to unsuitable weather conditions she rejoined ' Force O ' temporarily. In the afternoon of the 10th she parted company again for this operation.

Shortly after 1700A/9, ' Force O ' was attacked by enemy aircraft but no damage was sustained. HMS Avenger reported being missed by two torpedoes fired by an HE 111 aircraft.

Around 0615A/10, HMS Avenger, HMS Charybdis and HMS Clare were ordered to proceed to Algiers Bay. Both HMS Avenger and HMS Clare had reported engine defects and they were therefore sent to Algiers Bay to try to effect repairs.

Around 0625A/10, HMS Sheffield rejoined, the landings at Bougie having been postponed.

Around 1430A/10, the sloop HMS Ibis (Lt.Cdr. H.M. Darell-Brown, RN) joined.

Around 1530A/10, HMS Sheffield parted company again for the landings at Bougie.

Around 1645A/10, a formation of enemy aircraft was reported to be about 70 miles to the north-east of ' Force O ' and closing. At 1705A/10, 11 Ju-88's were sighted and they started dive bombing attacks. At 1717A/10, HMS Argus was straddled and then hit by one bomb. Damage was done but it was not serious and she was able to continue to operate. At 1727A/10, HMS Ibis was observed to be hit by a torpedo and she sank in about five minutes. After dark HMS Scylla proceeded to the spot and was able to pick up 5 officers and 102 ratings. Around 2030A/10, HMS Clare arrived in the area and she picked up another 3 ratings.

Around 2200A/10, ' Force O ' set course to the eastwards so as to be off Bougie by dawn on 11 November.

Around 1300A/11, HMS Sheffield rejoined and ' Force O ' proceeded back to the westwards.

Around 1720A/11, a few torpedo bombers attacked ' Force O ' but no damage was done. A torpedo exploded in the wake of HMS Scylla.

At 1855Z/12, the destroyer HMS Clare, attacked a submarine in position 37°41'N, 00°10'W and she considered to have destroyed it. It was later classified as probably destroyed. The submarine on the receiving end was the German U-596 who managed to escape without damage.

At dawn on the 13th, ' Force O ' left the operations area to return to Gibraltar. HMS Avenger had rejoined coming from Algiers having taken three fast transports with her. HMS Avenger had departed Algiers around 1800A/12, with the attack transport USS Samuel Chase (10812 GRT, built 1941), transport Almaack (American, 9902 GRT, built 1940) and the troop transport Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931) in company. They were escorted out by the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Zetland (Lt. J.V. Wilkinson, RN). HMS Zetland however did not join ' Force O '.

Around 0830A/14, ' Force O ', now made up of light cruiser HMS Sheffield, aircraft carrier HMS Argus, escort carrier HMS Avenger, AA cruiser HMS Charybdis, HMS Scylla and the destroyers HMS Wishart, HMS Wrestler, HMS Vanoc, HMS Velox and HMS Clare returned to Gibraltar. (36)

6 Nov 1942
On 6 November 1942, ' Force H ' was (re)assambled at sea to the east of Gibraltar to provide cover during the landings in North-Africa.

Around 0430/6, the aircraft carriers HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CB, CVO, DSO, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN), destroyers HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) entered the Mediterranean.

They were then joined by ships coming from Gibraltar (Bay), these were the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN), destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Martin (Cdr. C.R.P. Thomson, DSO, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, DSO, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN).

HMS Boadicea, HMS Brilliant, HMS Avon Vale, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge were then detached to Gibraltar where they arrived around 0615/6.

Around 0900/6, the light cruiser HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN) joined.

The orders for ' Force H ' were to support the Eastern (Algiers) and Centre Task Forces (Oran) and their follow-up convoys (TE and TF) agains seaborne attack by Vichy-French or Italian Mediterranean Fleets. ' Force H ' was not to proceed eastwards of 04°30'E except to engage the enemy. Unless strong enemy forces were reported to be at sea, HMS Rodney, escorted by HMS Beagle, HMS Boreas, HMS Bulldog were to join the Centre Task Force at 0600/8. HMS Bermuda might also be detached but to join the Eastern Task Force. ' Force H ' was to refuel from ' Force R ' at sea if necessary, but if the military situation permitted, it would withdraw to the westward to refuel, possibly at Oran about 13 November, in immediate readiness for further operations. Force R ' was made up of the RFA tankders Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941, master R.T. Duthie) and Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941, master D.B.C. Ralph). Escort was provided by the corvette HMS Coreopsis (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Davies, RNVR) and four A/S trawlers, HMS Arctic Ranger (Skr. J.F. Banks, RNR), HMS Imperialist (T/Lt. A.R.F. Pelling, RNR), HMS Loch Oskaig (T/Lt. G.T.S. Clampitt, RNR) and HMS St. Nectan (Lt. J.B. Osborne, RANVR).

Around 1730/7, ' Force H ' was attacked by enemy aircraft in position 37°46'N, 02°52'E. HMS Panther was near missed and sustained damage. She had to return to Gibraltar, first steaming only 6 knots but later this could be increased to 14 knots. En-route she sighted an enemy submarine in position 37°46'N, 02°12'E and forced it to dive. This was U-458 which fired two torpedoes but apparently these were not sighted by the British. HMS Panther arrived at Gibraltar in the afternoon of November 8th.

At 1810/7, HMS Rodney, HMS Beagle, HMS Boreas and HMS Bulldog parted company with ' Force H ' to join the Centre Task Force. HMS Bermuda appeared to also have parted company around this time.

' Force H ' and the fuelling force, ' Force R ', cruised in the area of Algiers until 1830/8 when ' Force H ' turned north. It turned back at midnight when in position 39°00'N, 02°29'E and patrolled off Algiers again during the 9th. During the night of 9/10 November it steamed eastwards at 60 miles from the North-African coast, turning back 30 miles to the east of Bougie at midnight.

Shortly before 0300/10 (0252/10 according to German sources and 0258/10 according to British sources) the destroyer HMS Martin was torpedoed and sunk in position 37°53'N, 03°57'E by the German submarine U-431. 161 officers and ratings lost their lives. 4 Officers and 59 ratings were picked up by HMS Quentin.

By noon on 10 November ' Force H ' was in position 37°08'N, 01°36'E, between Algiers and Tenez, with ' Force R ' close at hand. From then onwards ' Force H ' patrolled 60 miles from the coast between Algiers and Cape Tenez.

' Force H ' was joined around 0630/12 by HMS Rodney and her destroyer screen now made of of the escort destroyers HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge.

Late in the evening of the 11th the destroyers HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN) departed Gibaltar to join ' Force H '. Before joining they fuelled from ' Force R ' in the evening of the 12th. They had been ordered to remain with ' Force R ' during the night to reinforce its escort and then join ' Force H ' after dawn on the 13th. However before the joined, HrMs Isaac Sweers was torpedoed and sunk by U-431, so only HMS Porcupine joined ' Force H ' early on the 13th.

At 0615/14 ' Force H ' split up to return to Gibraltar; HMS Duke of York, HMS Formidable, HMS Bermuda, HMS Argonaut, HMS Sirius, HMS Eskimo, HMS Ashanti, HMS Tartar, HMS Opportune, HMS Partridge, HMS Pathfinder, HMS Penn and HMS Porcupine arrived at Gibraltar around 0130/15.

HMS Rodney, HMS Renown, HMS Victorious, HMS Milne, HMS Meteor, HMS Quality, HMS Quentin, HMS Quiberon, HMS Lookout, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge formed the other group. They were joined at 0630/15 by HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN). They returned to Gibraltar around 1800/15 but HMS Rodney was not able to berth and had to steam up and down in Gibraltar Bay until late in the evening when she anchorded there. The destroyers HMS Pathfinder, HMS Penn, HMS Opportune and HMS Tartar were sent out to patrol to the seaward of the Bay.

14 Nov 1942
At 2030Z/14, HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar to join ' Force H ' which they did around 0630Z/15.

They returned to Gibraltar with ' Force H ' around 1800Z/15. (37)

14 Nov 1942
Around 0830A/14, ' Force O ', now made up of light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, RN), escort carrier HMS Avenger (Cdr. A.P. Colthurst, RN), AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) and HMS Clare (Lt.Cdr. L.H. Landman, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from operations. (38)

23 Nov 1942
HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) conducted exercises off Gibraltar. (39)

25 Nov 1942
The AA cruisers HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN), HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), destroyer HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar for Algiers. (40)

26 Nov 1942
HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN), HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) arrived at Algiers from Gibraltar. (40)

26 Nov 1942
The Allied intelligence services had decrypted German signals stating that the French Fleet was going to be seized by German forces. The Allies were unsure of what the Vichy-French reaction would and were afraid the Vichy-French fleet would be captured intact by the Germans. In response ' Force H ' was ordered to sea as a precaution. However when the Germans moved against the Vichy-French fleet at Toulon in the early hours of the 27th the Vichy-French scuttled almost all their ships that were present at Toulon.

Around 1600/26, ' Force H ' made up of the battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN) departed Mers-el-Kebir to patrol south of the Balearics / north of Algiers.

[Very little information is found on this sailing and the names of the destroyers present are unknown to us for the moment but these appeared to have been the following:]
HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and the escort destroyer HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN).

They were joined at sea at 1700/27 by the light cruisers HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and the destroyer HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) that had sailed from Algiers at 1300/27.

All ships arrived at Mers-el-Kebir in the morning of the 30th.

4 Dec 1942
' Force H ', made up of the battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) sailed from Mers-el-Kebir and proceeded to the north-east for a patrol during the night of 4/5 December and then to proceed to Gibraltar.

On departure from Mers-el-Kebir they were joined at sea around 0945/4 by the destroyer HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN) which came from Algiers having sailed from there around 2000/3.

They arrived at Gibraltar around 1130/6.

12 Dec 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), with Vice-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN and his staff on board, departed Gibraltar for Barrow-in-Furness. (41)

16 Dec 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Barrow-in-Furness where Vice-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN and his staff disembarked.

HMS Charybdis then proceeded to Liverpool where she arrived later the same day. (42)

18 Dec 1942
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) proceeded from Liverpool to Barrow-in-Furness where she then was taken in hand for refit. (42)

22 Feb 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) proceeded from Barrow-in-Furness to Liverpool. (43)

25 Feb 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) is docked in the Gladstone Dry Dock at Liverpool. (43)

6 Mar 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) is undocked. She departed Liverpool for Scapa Flow later the same day for a post-refit work-up period. (43)

7 Mar 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow from Liverpool. (43)

12 Mar 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (44)

16 Mar 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (44)

17 Mar 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) conducted torpedo firing exercises at Scapa Flow. (44)

19 Mar 1943

Minelaying operation SN 90A.

Minelaying operation by the 1st Minelaying Squadron.

On 19 March 1943, the auxiliary minelayers HMS Menestheus (Capt.(Retd.) R.H.F. de Salis, DSC, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.M. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Port Quebec (A/Capt.(Retd.) V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN) and HMS Agamemnon (Capt.(Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN) departed Port ZA. (Loch Alsh) to lay minefield SN 90A. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Newark (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Wells (Lt. F.W.M. Carter, DSC, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. D.B.G. Dumas, RN) and HMS Charlestown (Lt. W.F.B. Webb, DSC, RN).

They were joined early the next day by the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow late on the 19th.

On 21 March a total of 1489 mines were laid at a depth of 25 feet along a line joining positions
64°57'5"N, 12°24'0"W and
64°28'0"N, 12°10'0"W.

The minelayers laid as follows; Agamemnon 530 mines, HMS Menestheus 410 mines and HMS Port Quebec 549 mines.

All ships returned to Port ZA / Scapa Flow (HMS Charybdis and HMS Charlestown) on 23 March 1943. (45)

27 Mar 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (44)

28 Mar 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Scapa Flow to patrol near the Faeroer Islands and then onwards to Milford Haven. (46)

30 Mar 1943
Around 1630A/30, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Milford Haven from patrol.

Around 2230A/30, she departed Milford Haven to patrol off the Bay of Biscay together with HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN) for a anti blockade breaker patrol. (46)

4 Apr 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Plymouth from patrol.

HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN) went on to Milford Haven where she also arrived on the same day. (46)

6 Apr 1943
Around 1630A/30, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) departed Plymouth to patrol off the Bay of Biscay for a anti blockade breaker patrol.

HMS Meteor returned from patrol on 11 April followed on the 12th by HMS Charybdis. (47)

16 Apr 1943

Combined convoy WS 29 / KMS 13.

This combined convoy was formed off Oversay on 16 April 1943. The convoy was divided into convoys WS 29 and KMS 13 at sea on 20 April 1943.

The combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Banfora (British, 9472 GRT, built 1914), Boissevain (Dutch, 14134 GRT, built 1937), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, built 1923), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Dunnottar Castle (British, 15007 GRT, built 1936), Empire Kamal (British, 7862 GRT, built 1938), Empire Prime (British, 9248 GRT, built 1941), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Gloucester (British, 8532 GRT, built 1941), Highland Brigade (British, 14134 GRT, built 1929), Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Índrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Pardo (British, 5400 GRT, built 1940), Silverwalnut (British, 6770 GRT, built 1930), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929), Straat Malakka (Dutch, 6439 GRT, built 1939) and Troilus (British, 7422 GRT, built 1921).

When the convoy was formed up off Oversay the escort for the combined convoy was made up of the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt. H.D. Durell, RN), escort destroyer HMS Lauderdale (Lt. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), sloops HMS Weston (Cdr. L.F. Durnford-Slater, RN), HMS Wellington (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), cutters HMS Gorleston (Cdr.(Retd.) R.W. Keymer, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr. L.E. Woodhouse, RN) and the frigates HMS Exe (A/Cdr. M.A.O. Biddulph, DSC, RN) and HMS Ness (A/Cdr. T.G.P. Crick, DSC, RN).

Around 1530B/18, the light (AA) cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) joined the convoy having sailed from Plymouth around 1415B/17. She parted company with the convoy after dark on the 20th.

Around 1600A/20, HMS Rapid parted company with the convoy to fuel at Casablanca.

Around 2100A/20, the Nea Hellas parted company to proceed to New York unescorted. Also around the same time HMS Charybdis parted company to proceed to Gibraltar where she arrived the following day.

Around 1030A/21, the destroyer HMS Malcolm (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) and HMS Wolverine (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN) joined coming from Casablanca. The combined convoy then split up.

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Convoy KMF 13, made up of the Banfora, Boissevai, Cuba, Duchess of York, Dunnottar Castle, Empire Pride, Franconia, Indrapoera, Nieuw Holland, Ormonde and Staffordshire escorted by HMS Weston, HMS Wellington, HMS Gorleston, HMS Totland, HMS Exe and HMS Ness set course to pass through the Straits of Gibraltar. All the merchant vessels were to proceed to Algiers, except the Dunnottar Castle which was to proceed to Gibraltar and the Boissevain and Nieuw Holland which were to proceed to Oran.

On 22 April the escort destroyer HMS Atherstone (Lt. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR) and HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN) joined the convoy off Gibraltar.

Also the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. H.F. Nalder, RN) joined the convoy.

The convoy arrived at Algiers on 23 April 1943.

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Convoy WS 29, made up of the Athlone Castle, City of Edinburgh, Empire Kamal, Gloucester, Highland Brigade, Highland Monarch, Highland Princess, Orion, Pardo, Silverwalnut, Straat Malakka and Troilus escorted by HMS Newcastle, HMS Venomous, HMS Malcolm, HMS Witch, HMS Wolverine and HMS Lauderdale.

At 2020A/21, HMS Rapid rejoined from fuelling at Casablanca. HMS Venomous and HMS Lauderdale were then detached to proceed to Gibraltar.

On 24 April the Gloucester was detached.

On 26 April the transport China Mail (American, 8616 GRT, built 1942) joined coming from Dakar.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 28 April 1943.

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Convoy WS 29 departed Freetown for South Africa on 5 May 1943, it was now made up of the transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Athlone Castle, City of Edinburgh, Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1935), Empire Kamal, Highland Brigade, Highland Monarch, Highland Princess, Orion, Pardo, Silverwalnut, Straat Malakka and Troilus.

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Newcastle, destroyers HMS Rapid, HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Malcolm, HMS Witch, HMS Wolverine and HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. M.V. Thorburn, DSC, RNVR) and the sloop Savorgnan de Brazza.

At 0930Z/6, Savorgnan de Brazza was detached.

At 1800Z/7, the City of Edinburgh, Highland Princess and Troilus split off from the convoy to proceed to Takoradi. The destroyers HMS Boreas and HMS Witch were their escorts.

At 2359B/11, HMS Rapid, HMS Malcolm and HMS Wolverine, were detached at 2359B/11 to Pointe Noire.

At 0700B/12, the destroyers HMS Racehorse (Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) and HMS Rotherham (Lt. J.R.L. Moore, RN) joined coming from Pointe Noire.

In the afternoon of the 12th HMS Lewes fuelled from HMS Newcastle.

HMS Lewes was again fuelled by HMS Newcastle in the afternoon of the 14th.

In the afternoon of the 15th, HMS Relentless fuelled from HMS Newcastle.

On the 16th the Capetown section of the convoy split off, it was made up of the Almanzora, Athlone Castle, Empire Kamal, Pardo and Silverwalnut. They were escorted by HMS Newcastle, HMS Rotherham and HMS Lewes. They arrived at Capetown on the 17th. HMS Lewes then proceeded to Simonstown arriving there on the 18th.

The remaining ships, Aorangi, Clan Lamont, Highland Brigade, Highland Monarch, Orion and Straat Malakka made up the Durban section. They were escorted by HMS Racehorse, HMS Relentless and HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN). This last destroyer having joined on the 16th coming from Salanha Bay. HMS Racehorse and HMS Relentless were relieved on the 18th by the destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) which had departed Simonstown at 0815B/18. HMS Racehorse and HMS Relentless then proceeded to Capetown arriving later on the 18th. The Durban section of the convoy arrived there on 21 May 1943.

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On 22 May 1943, the Capetown section of convoy WS 29 departed there, it was now made up of the following transports; Alcoa Pioneer, (American, 6761 GRT, built 1941), Almanzora, Athlone Castle, Empire Kamal, Llanstephan Castle (British, 11348 GRT, built 1914), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Pardo and Silverwalnut. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Racehorse, HMS Relentless and HMS Rotherham.

On 25 May 1943, HMS Racehorse arrived at Durban to fuel.

On 25 May 1943, the Durban section of the convoy departed there, it was now made up of the following transports; Bergensfjord (Norwegian, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Clan Lamont, Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929), Ruys (Dutch, 14155 GRT, built 1937), Selandia (South African, 8482 GRT, built 1938), Straat Malakka, Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932) and Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935). They were escorted by the destroyers HMAS Norman, Quadrant, HMS Racehorse and Redoubt. The Silverwalnut had to return to Durban due to defects.

The Capetown and the Durban section made rendezvous on 26 May and then merged minus the transports Empire Kamal and Llanstephan Castle which proceeded to Durban escorted by HMS Relentless and HMS Rotherham. They arrived at Durban on 26 May 1943. HMS Racehorse joined the three destroyers that came with the Durban section.

Around 1700C/27, the convoy was joined by the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. D.P. Evans, RN) which had departed Durban at 1645C/26 to overtake the convoy.

At 1650C/28, HMAS Norman parted company with the convoy.

At 2359C/28, HMS Quadrant and HMS Redoubt parted company.

At 1100C/29, HMS Racehorse parted company.

At 0810D/2, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral (A/Capt.(Retd.) G.W. Hoare-Smith, RN) joined the convoy.

At 1300D/2, HMS Kenya parted company with the convoy to proceed to Kilindini where she arrived around 1700C/4.

At 0800D/3, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Alaunia (Capt. R.H.C. Crawford, OBE, RNR) joined the convoy.

At 1230D/5, the convoy was split up in the Aden section and the Bombay section.

The Aden section was made up of; Alcoa Pioneer, Bergensfjord, Clan Lamond, Leopoldville, Pardo, Ruys and Selandia. It was escorted by HMS Chitral and arrived at Aden on 8 June 1943.

The Bombay section was made up of; Almanzora, Athlone Castle, Orbita, Straat Malakka, Strathaird and Strathmore. It was escorted by HMS Alaunia and arrived at Bombay on 10 June 1943, minus the Straat Malakka which had been detached on 9 June 1943 for Karachi where she also arrived on 10 June 1943.

17 Apr 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Plymouth to patrol off the Bay of Biscay for escort duty with the combined convoy WS 29 / KMS 13 and then onwards to Gibraltar.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Combined convoy WS 29 / KMS 13 ' for 16 April 1943.] (47)

19 Apr 1943

Convoy XK 4.

This convoy departed Gibraltar on 19 April 1943 and arrived at Liverpool on 30 April 1943.

The following merchant vessels were part of this convoy; Blairdevon (British, 3282 GRT, built 1925), Fecto (Norwegian, 1522 GRT, built 1921), Gullpool (British, 4868 GRT, built 1928), Kerma (British, 4333 GRT, built 1928), Leutenant de la Tour (French, 5700 GRT, built 1917), Marga (Norwegian, 1583 GRT, built 1923), Mont Viso (French, 4531 GRT, built 1921) and Zaan (Dutch, 1299 GRT, built 1921).

On departure from Gibraltar the convoy was escorted by the minesweeper HMS Halcyon (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.L.D. Hoare, RNR) and the corvette HMS Rhododendron (Lt. L.A. Sayers, RNR).

On 22 April 1943, the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar to patrol of the Bay of Biscay while en-route from Gibraltar to Portsmouth. She also was to provide cover for convoy XK 4 during part of it's voyage. HMS Charybdis arrived at Plymouth on 27 April 1943.

On 29 April 1943, HMS Halcyon was detached and arrived at Milford Haven later the same day.

The convoy arrived at Liverpool on 30 April 1943.

HMS Rhododendron arrived at Greenock on 30 April 1943.

21 Apr 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from convoy escort duty. (47)

22 Apr 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar to patrol off the Bay of Biscay for a anti blockade breaker patrol and to provide cover for convoy XK 4 in the meantime. She was to proceed to Plymouth afterwards.

For more in on the convoy see the event ' Convoy XK 4 ' for 19 April 1943.] (47)

27 Apr 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Plymouth from patrol. (47)

5 May 1943

Convoy TA 41B.

This convoy was only made up of one ship, the troopship Queen Mary (British, 81235 GRT, built 1936). She departed the Clyde on 5 May 1943 for New York and had on board about 5000 German POW's and also Prime Minister Churchill and his staff.

The AA cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow on 4 May 1943 and provided close escort for the troopship.

On 5 May 1943, the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN) departed Scapa Flow to provide cover. HMS Glasgow returned to Scapa Flow on 10 May apparently having turned back on 8 May.

Also on 5 May 1943, the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN) departed Greenock to provide air cover for the Queen Mary during the first part of her voyage. The carrier was escorted by the destroyers HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN). They turned back very late on 6 May and HMS Indomitable and HMS Eclipse returned to the Clyde on the 8th. HMS Matchless and HMS Mahratta were detached on the 8th to proceed to Scapa Flow where they arrived later on the same day.

Also on 5 May 1943, the light cruiser HMS Uganda (Capt. W.G. Andrewes, RN) and AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Plymouth to make rendezvous with the Queen Mary. Rendezvous was effected on 7 May. Most likely HMS Scylla then parted company as she arrived at Plymouth on 8 May. HMS Charybdis parted company around 2100A/8 to return to Plymouth where she arrived on 10 May.

The Queen Mary then continued on escorted by HMS Uganda.

At 1345N/9, the heavy cruisers USS Tuscaloosa (Capt. J.B.W. Waller, USN), USS Augusta (Capt. G. Hutchins, USN) and the destroyers USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN), USS Corry (T/Cdr. L.B. Ensey, USN), USS Hobson (T/Lt.Cdr. K. Loveland, USN) and Murphy (T/Cdr. L.W. Bailey, USN) joined. They had departed Argentia, Newfoundland on 6 May. HMS Uganda parted company shortly afterwards and proceeded to Argentia, arriving there on 11 May.

In the morning of the 10th the four US destroyers were relieved by four other destroyers, these were USS Mervine (T/Cdr. S.D. Willingham, USN), USS Quick (T/Cdr. P.W. Cann, USN), USS Beatty (T/Cdr. F.C. Stelter, Jr., USN) and USS Tillman (T/Cdr. F.D. McCorkle, USN).

The Queen Mary and her USN escort arrived at New York on 11 May.

19 May 1943

Convoy KX 10/OG 90.

This convoy departed Liverpool on 19 May 1943.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Algerian (British, 2315 GRT, built 1924), Badjestan (British, 5573 GRT, built 1928), Blairdevon (British, 3282 GRT, built 1925), Brinkburn (British, 1598 GRT, built 1924), City of Lancaster (British, 3041 GRT, built 1924), Dunelmia (British, 5207 GRT, built 1929), Eliphalet Nott (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Empire Darwin (British, 6765 GRT, built 1941), Empire Flamingo (British, 4994 GRT, built 1920), Empire Kangaroo (British, 6219 GRT, built 1919), Empire Rosalind (British, 7290 GRT, built 1943), Empire Spey (British, 4292 GRT, built 1929), Empire Sunbeam (British, 6711 GRT, built 1941), Finland (British, 1375 GRT, built 1939), Fort Confidence (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Fort Fairford (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort Halkett (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Fort McCloughlin (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), Fort Poplar (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Framlington Court (British, 4888 GRT, built 1924), Fylingdale (British, 3918 GRT, built 1924), Galway Coast (British, 1431 GRT, built 1915), Greathope (British, 2297 GRT, built 1926), Grodno (British, 2458 GRT, built 1919), Gullpool (British, 4868 GRT, built 1928), Hallfried (Norwegian, 2968 GRT, built 1918), Hartbridge (British, 5080 GRT, built 1927), Hilde (Danish, 1595 GRT, built 1930), Jan (Norwegain, 1946 GRT, built 1920), Junecrest (British, 6945 GRT, built 1942), Kingsborough (British, 3368 GRT, built 1928), Lewant (Polish, 1942 GRT, built 1930), Lublin (British, 1409 GRT, built 1932), Lyminge (British, 2499 GRT, built 1919), Marita (Norwegian, 1931 GRT, built 1919), Mers el Kebir (French, 1953 GRT, built 1917), Ocean Coast (British, 1173 GRT, built 1935), Ocean Gallant (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ousel (British, 1533 GRT, built 1922), Pass of Ballater (British, 7960 GRT, built 1928), Richard Olney (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943), Ronan (British, 1489 GRT, built 1938), Shetland (British, 1846 GRT, built 1921), Somerset Coast (British, 1097 GRT, built 1920), Svanholm (British, 1321 GRT, built 1922), Tautra (Norwegian, 1749 GRT, built 1920), Temple Inn (British, 5218 GRT, built 1940), Ulla (British, 1575 GRT, built 1930) and Volturno (British, 3420 GRT, built 1914).

On departure from Liverpool the convoy was escorted by the corvette HMS Oxlip (Lt. C.W. Leadbetter, RNR).

On 20 May, the destroyer HMS Clare (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Stewart, DSC, RD, RNR), frigates HMS Test (Lt.Cdr.(retired) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR), HMS Teviot (Cdr. T. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Trent (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J.G. Rankin, DSC, RNR) and corvette HMS Hyderabad (T/Lt. T. Cooper, RNR) joined coming from Londonderry.

The merchant vessel Jan apparently developed defects and returned.

Cover for the convoy during part of its passage was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and the destroyer ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) which were on patrol off the Bay of Biscay having departed Plymouth on 23 May.

The convoy arrived at Gibraltar on 31 May 1943 minus the merchant vessels City of Lancaster, Greathope, Gullpool, Hallfried, Shetland and Volturno which had been detached to Lisbon on 29 May 1943.

21 May 1943

Combined convoy OS 48/KMS 15G.

This combined convoy assembled off Oversay on 21 May 1943.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Baron Herries (British, 4574 GRT, built 1940), Boronesa (British, 8663 GRT, built 1918), Benjamin Williams (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Bradford City (British, 7266 GRT, built 1943), City of Adelaide (British, 6589 GRT, built 1920), City of Canberra (British, 7484 GRT, built 1927), City of Khios (British, 5574 GRT, built 1925), Clan MacIver (British, 4500 GRT, built 1925), Dalhanna (British, 5571 GRT, built 1930), Delane (British, 6054 GRT, built 1938), Duke of Sparta (British, 5397 GRT, built 1940), Eastgate (British, 5032 GRT, built 1940), Empire Livingstone (British, 6997 GRT, built 1941), Empire Miranda (British, 7054 GRT, built 1943), Empire Prospero (British, 6766 GRT, built 1943), Empire Rosalind (British, 7290 GRT, built 1943), Empire Splendour (British, 7335 GRT, built 1942), Empire Stanley (British, 6921 GRT, built 1941), Empire Sunbeam (British, 6711 GRT, built 1941), Empire Tide (British, 6978 GRT, built 1941), Empire Trent (British, 5006 GRT, built 1927), Empire Trumpet (British, 7059 GRT, built 1943), Fort Churchill (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), Fort Finlay (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Fort Jemseg (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort Lac La Ronge (British, 7131 GRT, built 1942), Fort Steele (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), George Chamberlain (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Hardingham (British, 7269 GRT, built 1942), Hermiston (British, 4813 GRT, built 1939), Historian (British, 5074 GRT, built 1924), Incomati (British, 7369 GRT, built 1934), Industria (British, 4850 GRT, built 1940), Inventor (British, 6210 GRT, built 1935), Johilla (British, 4042 GRT, built 1937), John Vining (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Kaituna (British, 4914 GRT, built 1938), Kindat (British, 4358 GRT, built 1938), Lodestone (British, 4877 GRT, built 1938), Madras City (British, 5080 GRT, built 1940), Margalau (British, 4541 GRT, built 1926), Nairung (British, 5414 GRT, built 1942), Narbada (British, 8988 GRT, built 1915), Nela (British, 7220 GRT, built 1916), Ocean Valour (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Vista (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Wanderer (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Panaghis (Greek, 5187 GRT, built 1920), Port Melbourne (British, 9142 GRT, built 1914), Pundit (British, 5305 GRT, built 1919), Regin (Norwegian, 1386 GRT, built 1917), Rookley (British, 4998 GRT, built 1940), Stuyvesant (Dutch, 4249 GRT, built 1918), Thysville (Belgian, 8351 GRT, built 1922), Tudor Star (British, 7199 GRT, built 1919), Urlana (British, 6852 GRT, built 1941), Vancouver City (British, 7261 GRT, built 1942), Wearpool (British, 4982 GRT, built 1936) and Zypenberg (Dutch, 4973 GRT, built 1920).

The RFA tanker Celerol (British (tanker), 2649 GRT, built 1917) was also with the convoy.

The convoy was escorted by the AA ship HMS Alynbank (A/Capt.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN), sloop HMS Fowey (Cdr.(Retd.) L.B.A. Majendie, RN) and the corvettes HMS Bergamot (Lt. R.T. Horan, RNR), HMS Bryony (T/Lt. T. Hand, RNR), HMS Campion (Lt.Cdr. A. Brown, RNR), HMS La Malouine (Lt. W.A. Ives, RNR), HMS Mallow (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.T.S. Clouston, RNVR), HMS Myosotis (T/Lt. R. Lugg, RNR), HMS Stonecrop (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Smythe, RNR). The minesweeper HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. W.L. O'Mara, RN), which was en-route to the Mediterranean Station was also part of the escort.

Distant cover during part of the convoy's passage was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and the destroyer ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) which had departed Plymouth on 23 May.

On 29 May the merchant vessels; Empire Envoy (British, 7046 GRT, built 1942), Empire Forest (British, 7025 GRT, built 1942), Fort Reliance (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Fame (British, 7173 GRT, built 1942) and another merchant vessel (?) joined coming from Gibraltar. They were escorted by the escort destroyer HMS Lauderdale (Lt. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), corvette HMS Convolvulus (A/Lt.Cdr. R.F.R. Yarde-Buller, RNVR) and the A/S trawler HMS Foxtrot (T/Lt. J.B. Bald, RNVR).

The convoy then split up shortly afterwards.

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Convoy KMS 15G proceeded to Gibraltar. This convoy was made up of the following merchant ships; Baron Herries, Benjamin Williams, Bradford City, City of Adelaide, City of Canberra, City of Khios, Clan MacIver, Dalhanna, Duke of Sparta, Empire Miranda, Empire Prospero, Empire Rosalind, Empire Splendour, Empire Stanley, Empire Sunbeam, Empire Tide, Empire Trumpet, Fort Churchill, Fort Finlay, Fort Lac La Ronge, George Chamberlain, Hardingham, Industria, Investor, John Vining, Kaituna, Kindat, Madras City, Nairung, Ocean Valour, Ocean Vista, Ocean Wanderer, Pundit, Regin, Vancouver City and Wearpool.

RFA tanker Celerol was also with them.

They were escorted by HMS Alynbank, HMS Lauderdale, HMS Sharpshooter, HMS Bergamot, HMS Bryony, HMS Convolvulus and HMS Foxtrot.

The convoy arrived at Gibraltar on 30 May 1943.

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Convoy OS 48 proceeded to Freetown. This convoy was made up of the following merchant ships; Baronesa, Delane, Empire Livingstone, Empire Trent, Fort Jemseg, Fort Steele, Hermiston, Historian, Incomati, Johilla, Lodestone, Margalau, Narbada, Nela, Panaghis, Port Melbourne, Rookley, Stuyvesant, Thysville, Tudor Star, Urlana and Zypenberg.

Shortly after the convoy's had split five more merchant vessels joined the convoy; Empire Barrie (British, 7168 GRT, built 1942), Fort Douglas (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), Fort Drew (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943) and Fort Thompson (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942) coming from Casablanca. They were escorted by ?. [ADM 199/639 gives the escort as the sloop HMS Folkestone but this ship was refitting in the UK so this can't be correct.]

And there was also the Charles Schiaffino (French, 3664 GRT, built 1930) which joined coming from Safi.

After the convoy's split, convoy OS 48 was escorted by HMS Fowey, HMS Campion, HMS La Malouine, HMS Mallow, HMS Myosotis, HMS Stonecrop.

During the passage the merchant ships Empire Barrie and Fort Steele were detached to Dakar.

The merchant vessel Empire Addison (British, 7010 GRT, built 1942) joined coming from Dakar.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 7 June 1943.

23 May 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) departed Plymouth to patrol off the Bay of Biscay and to provide cover for convoys OS 48/KMS 15 and KX 10/OG 90 in the meantime.

[For more info on these convoys see the events ' Convoy KX 10/OG 90 ' for 19 May 1943 and ' Combined convoy OS 48/KMS 15G ' for 21 May 1943.]

ORP Orkan returned to Plymouth 27 May 1942 and HMS Charybdis returned to Charybdis on 29 May 1942. (48)

28 May 1943

Towage of AFD 18 from Oban to Oran.

In the late evening of 28 May 1943 the Floating Dock AFD 18 departed Oban for Oran. The dock was being towed by the tug HMS Bustler.

Escort was provided by the sloop HMS Chanticleer (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Bristowe, DSO, RN) and the corvettes HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.F. Tognola, RNR), HMS Lotus (Lt.Cdr. H.J. Hall, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Poppy (T/Lt. D.R.C. Onslow, RNR) and HMS Starwort (Lt. A.H. Kent, DSC, RNR).

Cover during part of the passage was to be provided by the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) which departed Plymouth on 31 May.

The tow experienced difficulties and much delay.

This resulted in that some of the escorts had not enough fuel to reach Gibraltar and on 7 June they were all relieved by the destroyer HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN) which had departed Gibraltar on 5 June. Later the corvette HMS Cyclamen (?) and the A/S trawlers HMS Huddersfield Town (A/Skr.Lt. J.H. Consadine, DSC, RNR) and HNoMS Molde also joined. These too had departed Gibraltar on 5 June.

AFD 18 towed by HMS Bustler and escorted by HMS Bulldog, HMS Cyclamen, HMS Huddersfield Town and HNoMS Molde finally arrived at Oran on 12 June 1943. HMS Melbreak meanwhile had parted company arriving at Gibraltar on 13 June.

28 May 1943

Convoy MKF 15.

[Note: Further research on this convoy is required.]

This convoy departed Algiers on 28 May 1943 for the U.K. where it arrived on 5 June 1943.

On departure the convoy was made up of the following transports; Antenor (British, 11174 GRT, built 1925), Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Boissevain (British, 14134 GRT, built 1937), California (British, 16792 GRT, built 1923), Dartmouth (American, 9879 GRT, built 1943), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Letitia (British, 13595 GRT, built 1925), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921) and Santa Rosa (American, 9135 GRT, built 1932).

On departure from Algiers the convoy was escorted by the sloops HMS Weston (Cdr. L.F. Durnford-Slater, RN), HMS Wellington (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), HMS Lowestoft (A/Cdr.(Retd.) L.H. Phillips, RN), HMS Gorleston (Cdr.(Retd.) R.W. Keymer, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr. L.E. Woodhouse, RN) and the frigates HMS Exe (A/Cdr. M.A.O. Biddulph, DSC, RN) and HMS Ness (A/Cdr. T.G.P. Crick, DSC, RN).

On 29 May the transports Cristobal (American, 10021 GRT, built 1939), General George W. Goethals (American, 12093 GRT, built 1942), J.W. McAndrew (American, 7997 GRT, built 1940), John Ericsson (American, 16552 GRT, built 1928), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Seatrain Lakehurst (American, 8108 GRT, built 1940), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929) and Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936).

On 30 May the transports Felix Roussel (British, 17083 GRT, built 1930), Maloja (British, 20914 GRT, built 1923) and Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) joined coming from Gibraltar. Also joining from Gibraltar were the aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escort carrier HMS Tracker (A/Capt. G.C. Dickins, RN) and the destroyers HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSC, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN).

Later on 30 May the transports Antenor, Staffordshire and Stirling Castle were detached to proceed to Freetown via Bathurst / Dakar.

Also on 30 May the Scythia was detached to proceed to New York.

The sloop HMS Totland had to be detached due to defects and arrived at Gibraltar on 30 May 1943.

[No info available on the US ships, it seems likely that the Scythia proceeded with them to the USA but further research is required.]

The convoy arrived in the U.K. on 4 June 1943 with the bulk of the convoy arriving at Liverpool on 5 June 1943.

31 May 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Plymouth around 0600B/31 to provide cover for convoy MKF 15 and the dock AFD 18 which was on passage from Scotland to Oran.

HMS Charybdis was to proceed through position 180°, Bishop Rock, 10 miles and then through 49°12'N, 12°12'W. She was then to patrol between 47°00'N, and 45°00'N on about 16°00'W.

She is to return to Plymouth after AFD 18 passed 42°00'N.

For more info on the passage of AFD 18 see the event ' Towage of AFD 18 from Oban to Oran ' for 28 May 1943 and ' Convoy MKF 15 ' also for 28 May 1943. (48)

3 Jun 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) returned to Plymouth for convoy cover duty / patrol. (49)

4 Jun 1943
Around 0845B/4, the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Limbourne (Cdr. C.B. Alers-Hankey, DSC, RN) and HMS Meynell (Lt. B.M.D. I'Anson, RN) departed Plymouth to proceed to position 44°02'N, 10°58'W.

After arriving in the above position they were to patrol between latitudes 43°01'N and 45°02'N and longtitudes 10°01'W and 11°59'W on an anti-blockade breaker patrol.

They were recalled the following day and arrived back at Plymouth around 1230B/6. (50)

10 Jun 1943
The AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Plymouth around 1100B/11 to patrol off the Bay of Biscay from an anti-blockade breaker patrol. Also proceeding on patrol were the destroyers HMCS Iroquois (Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN) and ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki).

HMS Charybdis was to proceed to position 43°01'N, 12°59'W and to patrol within 50 miles from this position.

HMCS Iroqouis and ORP Orkan were ordered to return to Plymouth on the 12th. ORP Orkan arrived later on the 12th but HMCS Iroquois remained at sea to provide cover for a convoy of landing craft that was only being escorted by the A/S whaler HMS Southern Gem (T/Lt. P.H. Riseley, RNVR).

On the 14th, while HMS Charybdis was on the way back to Plymouth she was also ordered to provide cover for the convoy of landing craft as German forces had been reported. She therefore joined HMCS Iroquois around 1145B/14.

Around 2330B/14, HMCS Iroquois parted company to search for a reported downed Whitley aircraft in position 49°10'N, 06°20'W but no survivors were however found.

Both HMS Charybdis and HMCS Iroquois arrived at Plymouth on the 15th. (51)

16 Jun 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) is docked in No.9 Dock at the Devonport Dockyard for repairs to her defective A/S dome. (49)

18 Jun 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) is undocked. (49)

19 Jun 1943

Combined convoy OS 50/KMS 17G.

This combined convoy assembled off Oversay on 19 June 1943.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Anglo Indian (British, 5609 GRT, built 1938), Balteako (British, 1328 GRT, built 1920), Baron Douglas (British, 3899 GRT, built 1932), Baron Ramsay (British, 3650 GRT, built 1929), Baron Ruthven (British, 3178 GRT, built 1925), Basil (British, 4913 GRT, built 1928), Blairesk (British, 3300 GRT, built 1925), Calgary (British, 7206 GRT, built 1921), City of Dundee (British, 5273 GRT, built 1921), City of Eastbourne (British, 5563 GRT, built 1923), Coity Castle (British, 2767 GRT, built 1919), Colytto (Dutch, 4408 GRT, built 1926), Como (British, 1295 GRT, built 1910), Corcrest (British, 2373 GRT, built 1918), Cromarty (British, 4974 GRT, built 1936), Dalcross (British, 4557 GRT, built 1930), Dordrecht (Dutch, 4402 GRT, built 1928), Dornoch (British, 5186 GRT, built 1939), Dumfries (British, 5149 GRT, built 1935), Empire Candida (British, 2908 GRT, built 1943), Empire Fal (British, 4880 GRT, built 1914), Empire Franklin (British, 7292 GRT, built 1941), Empire Harp (British (tanker), 861 GRT, built 1942), Empire Nightingale (British, 5698 GRT, built 1918), Evviva (Norwegian, 1597 GRT, built 1921), Fort Abitibi (British, 7122 GRT, built 1942), Fort Liard (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Fort Nipigon (British, 7132 GRT, built 1942), Fort Senneville (British, 7131 GRT, built 1942), Glenwood (British, 4897 GRT, built 1940), Godfrey Holt (British, 3585 GRT, built 1929), Helencrest (British, 5233 GRT, built 1941), Henzada (British, 4161 GRT, built 1934), Kristianiafjord (Norwegian, 6759 GRT, built 1921), Lafian (British, 4876 GRT, built 1937), Llanberis (British, 5055 GRT, built 1928), Lysaker V (Norwegian, 1571 GRT, built 1936), Marga (Norwegian, 1583 GRT, built 1923), Merkland (British, 1363 GRT, built 1934), Nijkerk (Dutch, 5843 GRT, built 1915), Norfalk (British, 5675 GRT, built 1919), Ocean Viceroy (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Pendeen (British, 4174 GRT, built 1923), Pentridge Hill (British, 7579 GRT, built 1941), Phemius (British, 7406 GRT, built 1921), Richmond Hill (British, 7579 GRT, built 1940), Saltwick (British, 3775 GRT, built 1929), Sansu (British, 5446 GRT, built 1939), Silverash (British, 7750 GRT, built 1926), Souliotis (Greek, 4299 GRT, built 1917), Stad Maasluis (British, 6541 GRT, built 1918), Stanhope (British, 2337 GRT, built 1919), Tiba (Dutch, 5239 GRT, built 1938), Tombouctou (British, 5636 GRT, built 1919), Trevaylor (British, 5257 GRT, built 1940), Uranienborg (British, 5257 GRT, built 1940) and Vigsnes (Norwegian, 1599 GRT, built 1930).

On assembly of Oversay the convoy was escorted by the sloops HMS Enchantress (Cdr. A.E.T. Christie, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Leith (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN), HMS Aberdeen (Lt.Cdr. H. Day, RN), HMS Folkestone (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, OBE, RN) and the corvettes HMS Anchusa (T/Lt. H.V. Gordon, DSC, RNVR), HMS Coreopsis (T/Lt. B.C. Hamilton, RNR) and HMS Violet (Lt. C.N. Stewart, RNR) which joined coming from Londonderry.

The monitors HMS Abercrombie (A/Capt.(Retd.) R.E.C. Dunbar, RN) (A/Capt. G.V.B. Faulkner, RN) and HMS Roberts (A/Capt.(Retd.) R.E.C. Dunbar, RN) were also taking passage in this convoy as was the RFA tanker Orangeleaf (5983 GRT, built 1917).

On 21 June HMS Folkestone was detached to return to Londonderry for repairs to defective hull plating.

On 24 June the merchant vessel Dornoch straggled from the convoy. The next day HMS Folkestone was ordered to search for her. She had departed Londonderry to overtake the convoy on 24 June having effected repairs there.

Cover for the convoy during part of the passage was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN).

En-route the merchant vessels Baron Ramsay, Merkland and Stanhope were detached to Lisbon as was the Coity Castle which was detached to Huelva.

On 27 June 1943 the convoy was split up.

The destroyer HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN), A/S trawlers HMS Reighton Wyke (Skr. G.M. Sutherland, RNR), HMS Visenda (T/Lt. S.F. Archer, RNR) and A/S whaler HMS Southern Gem (T/Lt. P.H. Riseley, RNVR) took over the escort of convoy KMS 17G. These escorts, plus the corvette HMS Columbine (T/A/Lt.Cdr. W.J. Griffiths, RNR) had brought out convoy OS 50G from Gibraltar which they had departed earlier on 27 June. [For the ships of convoy OS 50G see below.]

HMS Aberdeen and HMS Folkestone from the original escort also proceeded to Gibraltar escorting convoy KMS 17G.

On 28 June the convoy escort was reinforced by the escort destroyer Holcombe and Viceroy.

Convoy KMS 17G arrived at Gibraltar on 29 June.

Convoy KMS 17G was made up of the following merchant vessels; Anglo Indian, Balteako, Baron Douglas, Baron Ruthven, Blairesk, Como, Corcrest, Cromarty, Dalcross, Dumfries, Empire Candida, Empire Fal, Empire Harp, Empire Nightingale, Evviva, Fort Abitibi, Fort Nipigon, Helencrest, Kristianiafjord, Lysaker V, Marga, Norfalk, Pendeen, Pentridge Hill, Richmond Hill, Saltwick, , Trevaylor and Vigsnes.

The Orangeleaf also was part of KMS 17G as were HMS Abercrombie and HMS Robert.

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Convoy OS 50 then continued on with the escort. It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Basil, Calgary, City of Dundee, City of Eastbourne, Colytto, Dordrecht, Empire Franklin, Fort Liard, Fort Sonneville, Glenwood, Godfrey B. Holt, Lafian, Llanberis, Nijkerk, Ocean Viceroy, Sansu, Silverash, Souliotis, Tiba, Tombouctou and Unanienborg.

These were joined by the merchant vessels which had made up convoy OS 50G which had been brought out of Gibraltar by the escortx which took over convoy KMS 17G, except for HMS Columbine which joined convoy OS 50.

The merchant vessels in question were the following; Baron Herries (British, 4574 GRT, built 1940), Biafra (British, 5405 GRT, built 1933), Empire Kangaroo (British, 6219 GRT, built 1919), Empire Miranda (British, 7054 GRT, built 1943), Empire Sunbeam (British, 6711 GRT, built 1941), Fort Fairford (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort Lac La Ronge (British, 7131 GRT, built 1942), Fort McLoughlin (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), Fort Vermillion (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Industria (British, 4850 GRT, built 1940), Junecrest (British, 6945 GRT, built 1942), Madras City (British, 5080 GRT, built 1940), Ocean Verity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Volunteer (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Temple Inn (British, 5218 GRT, built 1940), Trader (British, 6087 GRT, built 1940) and Wearpool (British, 4982 GRT, built 1936).

Later more merchant vessels joined coming from Casablanca, these were the; Dan-Y-Brin (British, 5117 GRT, built 1940), Dunkerque (French, 2477 GRT, built 1925), Elorn (French, 5482 GRT, built 1930), Finisterre (French, 1158 GRT, built 1909), Hoggar (French, 5146 GRT, built 1923), Ingleton (British, 7203 GRT, built 1942) and Schiaffino (British, 3236 GRT, built 1920).

The following merchant vessels were then detached to Casablanca; Fort Laird and Fort Senneville.

Off Dakar the following merchant vessels joined the convoy; Fort de Vaux (British, 5186 GRT, built 1918), Fort Jemseg (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Horace Williams (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Palacio (British, 1346 GRT, built 1927) and Salta (Norwegian, 3907 GRT, built 1920).

The following merchant vessels were then detached to Dakar; Calgary, Dan-Y-Bryn, Dunkerque, Elorn, Finisterre, Fort Lac La Ronge, Hoggar, Ingleton and Madras City.

The merchant vessel Godfrey B. Holt was detached to Bathurst.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 8 June 1943.

20 Jun 1943

Convoy KMS 18A.

This convoy departed the Cylde on 20 June 1943.

It was made up of the following tank landing ships; LST 301 (A/Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) R.F. Hoyle, RNR), LST 305 (A/Lt.Cdr. R.M. Naylor, RNR), LST 319 (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Sutton, RN), LST 321 (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.H. Metcalfe, RNR), LST 365 (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.F. Halliday, RNR), LST 366 (A/Lt.Cdr. N. Hall, RNR), LST 406 (A/Lt.Cdr. H.J. Chaloner, RNR) and LST 424 (Lt.Cdr. G.R. Grandage, RNR).

The convoy was escorted by the sloops HMS Wellington (Cdr. G.A. Thring, DSO, RN), HMS Lowestoft (A/Cdr.(Retd.) L.H. Phillips, RN), HMS Gorleston (Cdr.(Retd.) R.W. Keymer, RN), frigates HMS Exe (A/Cdr. M.A.O. Biddulph, DSC, RN), HMS Ness (A/Cdr. T.G.P. Crick, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Pytchley (Lt. R.H. Hodgkinson, RN).

LST 406 developed engine trouble and was detached to Londonderry.

Cover for part of the voyage was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN).

The convoy arrived at Gibraltar on 29 June 1943.

21 Jun 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) conducted D/G trials off Plymouth. (49)

22 Jun 1943

Convoy XK 9.

This convoy departed Gibraltar on 22 June 1943 for the U.K.

It was made up of the following transports; Glenartney (British, 9795 GRT, built 1940), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Malakand (British, 7649 GRT, built 1919), Martand (British, 7967 GRT, built 1925) and Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914).

The convoy was escorted by the escort carrier HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN), destroyer HMS Malcolm (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, DSC, RN) and HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN). The destroyer HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) was local escort, she was detached at 2000B/25 and returned to Gibraltar on 28 June.

The AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and destroyers HMCS Iroquois (Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN) and ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) provided cover for part of the voyage.

The convoy arrived in the U.K. on 28 June 1943.

23 Jun 1943
Around 1600B/23, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Plymouth to provide cover for convoys off the Bay of Biscay.

[For more info on these convoys see the events ' Combined convoy OS 50/KMS 17G ' for 19 June 1943, ' Convoy KMS 18A ' for 20 June 1943 and ' Convoy XK 9 ' for 22 June 1943.] (49)

30 Jun 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) returned to Plymouth from patrol / convoy cover duty. (49)

4 Jul 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Plymouth to patrol off the Bay of Biscay possible also to provide cover for convoys.

[This apparently included the combined convoy SL 131 / MKS 15 but we currently have no further details available at this moment, further research is required.] (52)

10 Jul 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) returned to Plymouth. (52)

19 Jul 1943

Combined convoy WS 32 / KMF 20.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 19 July 1943.

On assembly the convoy was made up of the following transports; Chyebassa (British, 7043 GRT, built 1942), City of Bristol (British, 8424 GRT, built 1943), Copacabana (Belgian, 7340 GRT, built 1938), Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Esperance Bay (British, 14204 GRT, built 1922), Highland Chieftain (British, 14135 GRT, built 1929), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Maloja (British, 20914 GRT, built 1923), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Moreton Bay (British, 14193 GRT, built 1921), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Rangitata (British,16737 GRT, built 1929), Rembrandt (British, 5559 GRT, built 1941), Rochester Castle (British, 7795 GRT, built 1937), Rowallan Castle (British, 7798 GRT, built 1939) and Volendam (Dutch, 15434 GRT, built 1922).

The convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), sloops HMS Egret (Lt. G.H. Cook, RN), HMS Pelican (Capt. G.N. Brewer, RN) and the frigates HMS Derg (A/Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.W. Cooper, RNR), HMS Jed (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Freaker, DSO, RD, RNR), Kale (HMS Kale (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Houchen, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Rother (Lt.Cdr. R.V.E. Case, DSO, DSC and Bar, RD, RNR), HMS Tay (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Sherwood, RNR) and HMS Wear (Cdr. E. Wheeler, RD, RNR).

On 21 July 1943 the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Plymouth to join the convoy which she did early in the evening off 22 July.

The convoy split up at 2000B/25.

Convoy KMF 20, continued on to the Mediterranean. It was made up of the following transports; Cheyebassa, City of Bristol, Dempo, Highland Princess, Mooltan, Orion, Rembrandt and Volendam.

They were escorted by HMS Egret, HMS Pelican, HMS Jed, HMS Rother and HMS Wear.

At 1000B/26, HMS Charybdis parted company and proceeded ahead to Gibraltar arriving there around 2000B/26.

The convoy passed the straits of Gibraltar during the night of 27/28 July. HMS Pelican was detached and arrived at Gibraltar on 27 July.

The transports Dempo, Highland Princess, Mooltan, Orion and Volendam arrived at Algiers on 28 July 1943 escorted by HMS Egret, HMS Jed, HMS Rother and HMS Wear.

Cheyebassa, City of Bristol and Rembrandt continued on the the eastwards towards Malta as convoy KMF 20A. They were escorted by HMS Egret, HMS Jed and HMS Rother which, most likely, had fuelled at Algiers.

On 30 July 1943, HMS Egret, HMS Jed and HMS Rother arrived at Malta. Their escort duties taking over by the destroyers HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) which had departed Malta earlier on 30 July.

The three ships of the convoy joined convoy GTX 4 on 31 July following which HMS Ilex and HMS Intrepid returned to Malta arriving on 1 August.

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Convoy WS 32 continued on towards Freetown. It was made up of the following transports; Copacabana, Esperance Bay, Highland Chieftain, Maloja, Moreton Bay, Rangitata, Rochester Castle and Rowallan Castle.

They were escorted by the destroyer Beagle and the frigates HMS Derg, HMS Kale and HMS Tay. These were joined by the destroyer HMS Douglas (Lt.Cdr. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN) and the frigate HMS Ness (A/Cdr. T.G.P. Crick, DSC, RN).

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 28 July 1943.

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Convoy WS 32 departed Freetown for South Africa on 5 August 1943.

It was now made up of the transports; Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Esperance Bay, Highland Chieftain, Maloja, Moreton Bay, Rangitata and Rochester Castle.

On 8 August 1943 the transport Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922) joined the convoy coming from Takoradi. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Wolverine (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN) which also joined the convoy.

On 9 August 1943, the transports Largs Bay (British, 14182 GRT, built 1921) and Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922) joined the convoy coming from Lagos.

The convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Beagle, HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), HMS Douglas and the frigates HMS Derg, HMS Kale and HMS Tay.

On 12 August 1943, HMS Beagle, HMS Bulldog, HMS Douglas and HMS Wolverine parted company after having been relieved by the destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN).

The convoy arrived at Capetown in 18 August 1943.

It sailed again the following day, minus the Rochester Castle for Durban where it arrived on 22 August 1943. They had been escorted by HMAS Norman, HMAS Quiberon, HMS Rapid and HMS Relentless.

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On 28 August 1943 convoy WS 32 departed Durban for Bombay. It was now made up of the transports Britannic, Largs Bay, Maloja, Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935) and Tamaroa.

They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. J.W. Josselyn, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Norman, HMAS Quiberon and HMS Rapid.

On 3 September 1943, the light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.J. Wylie, RN) took over from HMS Hawkins and the three destroyers which then proceeded to Kilindini where they arrived the following fdat after having participated in night exercises.

The convoy arrived at Bombay on 10 September minus the Strathmore which had been detached to Aden on 6 September.

19 Jul 1943

Combined convoy OS 52 / KMS 21G.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 19 July 1943.

On assembly it was made up of the transports; Amberton (British, 5377 GRT, built 1928), Antilochus (British, 9082 GRT, built 1906), Avristan (British, 7266 GRT, built 1942), Baron Haig (British, 3391 GRT, built 1926), Barrgrove (British, 5222 GRT, built 1918), Borgholm (Norwegian, 1557 GRT, built 1922), Bothnia (British, 2407 GRT, built 1928), City of Lyons (British, 7063 GRT, built 1926), Clan MacBrayne (British, 4818 GRT, built 1916), Contractor (British, 6004 GRT, built 1930), Cordillera (British, 6865 GRT, built 1920), Deido (British, 3894 GRT, built 1928), El Argentino (British, 9501 GRT, built 1928), Empire Brutus (British, 7233 GRT, built 1943), Empire Carpenter (British, 7025 GRT, built 1943), Empire Celia (British, 7025 GRT, built 1943), Empire Glen (British, 6327 GRT, built 1941), Empire Heath (British, 6643 GRT, built 1941), Empire Highway (British, 7166 GRT, built 1942), Empire Kingsley (British, 6996 GRT, built 1941), Empire Mountain (British, 2906 GRT, built 1943), Empire Samson (British (tug), 261 GRT, built 1943), Empire Voice (British, 6828 GRT, built 1940), Fernhill (British, 4116 GRT, built 1926), Finland (British, 1375 GRT, built 1939), Flimston (British, 4674 GRT, built 1925), Forresbank (British, 5155 GRT, built 1925), Fort Brule (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Fort Buffalo (British, 7100 GRT, built 1943), Fort Chesterfield (British, 7100 GRT, built 1943), Fort Enterprise (British, 7126 GRT, built 1943), Fort Longueuil (British, 7128 GRT, built 1942), Fort Nakasley (British, 7132 GRT, built 1943), Fort Wringley (British, 7128 GRT, built 1943), Glaisdale (British, 3777 GRT, built 1929), Governor (British, 5571 GRT, built 1918), Grodno (British, 2458 GRT, built 1919), Halizones (British, 3298 GRT, built 1920), Hallfried (Norwegian, 2968 GRT, built 1918), Henri Jaspar (Belgian, 5760 GRT, built 1929), Highwear (British, 1173 GRT, built 1936), Hopecrest (British, 5099 GRT, built 1935), Hughli (British, 6589 GRT, built 1943), Jenny (Norwegian, 4706 GRT, built 1928), Kana (British, 2783 GRT, built 1929), Kofresi (British, 4934 GRT, built 1920), Kyklades (Greek, 7157 GRT, built 1941), Levernbank (British, 5150 GRT, built 1925), Lwow (Polish, 1409 GRT, built 1932), Magician (British, 5105 GRT, built 1925), Madalay (British, 5529 GRT, built 1911), Mary Kingsley (British, 5021 GRT, built 1930), Masirah (British, 6578 GRT, built 1919, Nurani (British, 5414 GRT, built 1941), Nurjehan (British, 5424 GRT, built 1923), Ocean Vigour (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ottinge (British, 2870 GRT, built 1940), Parklaan (Dutch, 3807 GRT, built 1911), Pegu (British, 7838 GRT, built 1943), Recorder (British, 2276 GRT, built 1902), Silvermaple (British, 5313 GRT, built 1937), Sobo (British, 5353 GRT, built 1937), Spero (British, 1589 GRT, built 1922), Spurt (Norwegian, 2061 GRT, built 1918), Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940), Themistocles (British, 11231 GRT, built 1911), Thomas Holt (British, 3585 GRT, built 1929) and Wellington Court (British, 4979 GRT, built 1930).

The convoy was escorted by the sloop HMS Fowey (Cdr.(Retd.) L.B.A. Majendie, RN), frigate HMS Berry (Lt.Cdr. G.V. Legassick, RD, RNR) and the corvettes HMS Campion (Lt.Cdr. A. Brown, RNR), HMS Jonquil (T/Lt. R.W. Tretheway, RNR), HMS Mallow (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.T.S. Clouston, RNVR), HMS Myosotis (T/Lt. R. Lugg, RNR) and HrMs Friso (Lt.Cdr. P.L.M. van Geen, RNN).

Later the escort was reinforced with the corvette HMS Stonecrop (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Smythe, RNR) which departed Liverpool on 24 July 1942 to overtake the convoy. She proceeded via the south of Ireland.

The merchant vessels Antilochus and Highwear were forced to return due to defects.

On 26 July 1943, the convoy was attack by German Focke-Wulf reconnaissance aircraft which managed to sink the El Argentino in position 39°50'N, 13°36'W. The Empire Brutus was damaged shortly afterwards and was taken in tow by the tug Empire Samson towards Lisbon. They were escorted by HMS Jonquil. They arrived at Lisbon on 30 July.

On 27 July 1943, the convoy was again attacked by German aircraft and the Halizone was damaged in position 38°04'N, 12°59'W. She finally sank on 30 July in position 37°22'N, 13°03'W. HMS Berry had been standing by her for a short period but as she could not be spared from the A/S screen she was soon ordered to rejoin the convoy. From Gibraltar the destroyer HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, RN) and tug Prosperous was sent out. She found the ship on 30 July but she sank soon afterwards.

On 26 July 1943, the Gibraltar section of convoy OS 52 [see below for the ships in this section] had departed Gibraltar to make rendezvous with the combined convoy. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN), corvettes HMS Bergamot (Lt. R.T. Horan, RNR), HMS Bryony (T/Lt. T. Hand, RNR), minesweepers Shippigan (Cdr. M.H. Brown, DSC, RN), Tadoussac (T/Lt. J.P. Davies, RNR), A/S trawlers HMS Haarlem (T/Lt. J.R.T. Broom, RNVR), HMS Lady Hogarth (T/Lt. S.G. Barnes, RNR), HMS St. Nectan (T/A/Lt.Cdr. T.F. Broadhead, RNR) and the A/S whaler HMS Southern Pride (T/Lt. G.B. Angus, DSC, RNVR).

They made rendezvous with the combined convoy on 27 July which then split up. The ships coming from Gibraltar then joined the ships continuing on towards West Africa. They were escorted by the ships of the original escort. HMS Southern Pride joined them as she was to join the West Africa Command.

The ships making up convoy KMS 21G set course for Gibraltar.

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Convoy KMS 21G was now made up of the following transports; Avristan, City of Lyons, Clan MacBrayne, Contractor, Empire Carpenter, Empire Celia, Empire Glen, Empire Heath, Empire Kingsley, Empire Mountain, Empire Voice, Finland, Forresbank, Fort Brule, Fort Buffalo, Fort Enterprise, Fort Longueuil, Fort Wringley, Glaisdale, Grondo, Hallfried, Highwear, Hughli, Kana, Kofresi, Levernbank, Lwow, Magician, Mandalay, Masirah, Nurani, Nurjehan, Ocean Valour, Ottinge, Parklaan, Pegu, Recorder, Spero and Temple Arch.

They were escorted by HMS Isis, HMS Bergamot, HMS Bryony, HMS Shippigan, HMS Tadoussac, HMS Haarlem, HMS Lady Hogarth and HMS St.Nectan.

The AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) joined them late in the evening of the 27th.

The convoy arrived at Gibraltar on 29 July 1943.

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Convoy OS 52 continued on towards the south. It was made up of the following transports; Amberton, Barrgrove, Bothnia, Cordillera, Deido, Empire Highway, Flimston, Fort Chesterfield, Fort Nakasley, Governor, Henri Jaspar, Hopecrest, Jenny, Kyklades, Mary Kingsley, Silvermaple, Sobo, Themistocles, Thomas Holt and Wellington Court.

They were escorted by the sloop HMS Fowey, frigate HMS Berry, corvettes HMS Campion, HMS Mallow, HMS Myosotis, HMS Stonecrop, HMS Friso and the A/S whaler HMS Southern Pride.

As the convoy split they were joined by the Gibraltar section made up of the following transports; Anglo Indian (British, 5609 GRT, built 1938), Beaconsfield (British, 4635 GRT, built 1938), Belgian Airmen (Belgian, 6959 GRT, built 1942), Charlton Hall (British, 5200 GRT, built 1940), Cromarty (British, 4974 GRT, built 1936), Empire Stalwart (British, 7045 GRT, built 1943), Fort Abitibi (British, 7122 GRT, built 1942), Iddesleigh (British, 5205 GRT, built 1927), Kristianiafjord (British, 6759 GRT, built 1921), Nyanza (British, 4974 GRT, built 1928) and Ocean Gallant (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942).

Later the following transport joined coming from Casablanca; Alsace (French, 2000 GRT, built 1939), Canada (French, 9684 GRT, built 1912), Fort Vercheres (British, 7128 GRT, built 1942), La Pampa (British, 4149 GRT, built 1938), Nivose (British, 9200 GRT, built 1932) and Silverteak (British, 6770 GRT, built 1930).

These ships were escorted out by the patrol vessels USS PC-471 (Lt. G. Washburn, USNR), USS PC-474 (Lt. A.D. Weekes, Jr., USNR) and USS PC-480 (Lt.(jg) Frank W. Meyers, Jr., USNR).

The following ships were detached to Casablanca; Fort Chesterfield and Fort Nakasley. They were escorted by the three USN patrol vessels listed above.

HMS Berry, HMS Mallow and HMS Stonecrop from the escort fuelled at Casablanca before rejoining the convoy. HMS Berry departed Casablanca at 1500A/29, HMS Mallow at 1700A/29 and HMS Stonecrop at 0500A/30.

Later the following transport joined coming from Dakar; Agen (French, 4186 GRT, built 1921), Fort Lac La Ronge (British, 7131 GRT, built 1942) and Schiaffino Freres (French, 3314 GRT, built 1910).

The following ships were detached to Dakar; Alsace, Canada, Fort Vercheres, Henri Jaspar, Nivose and Thomas Holt.

Detached to Bathurst was the Bothnia.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 7 August 1943.

26 Jul 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Gibraltar after convoy escort duty. (52)

27 Jul 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar for escort duty with convoy KMS 21G.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Combined convoy OS 52 / KMS 21G ' for 19 July 1943.] (52)

29 Jul 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from convoy escort duty. (52)

1 Aug 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar to patrol off the Bay of Biscay. (53)

1 Aug 1943

Convoy MKF 20.

This convoy departed Algiers on 1 August 1943.

It was made up of the troop transports; Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935) and Volendam (Dutch, 15434 GRT, built 1922).

Escort was made up of the sloops HMS Pelican (Capt. G.N. Brewer, RN), HMS Egret (Lt. G.H. Cook, RN), frigates HMS Rother (Lt.Cdr. R.V.E. Case, DSO, DSC and Bar, RD, RNR), HMS Wear (Cdr. E. Wheeler, RD, RNR) and the escort destroyer HMS Limbourne (Cdr. C.B. Alers-Hankey, DSC, RN).

The convoy arrived at Oran on 2 August 1943.

The convoy departed Oran on 3 August 1943. The frigate HMS Jed (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Freaker, DSO, RD, RNR) had reinforced the convoy escort now.

The convoy arrived at Gibraltar on 4 August 1943. It departed for the U.K. later the same day minus the transport Dempo. The convoy escort was reinforced by the destroyers HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, RN).

On 5 August 1943, the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar to overtake the convoy and then join the convoy escort. She joined the convoy on the morning of the 6th.

At 1000B/8, HMS Charybdis parted company with the convoy to return to Gibraltar.

HMS Limbourne was detached to Plymouth where she arrived on 10 August 1943.

HMS Amazon and HMS Wanderer were detached to Londonderry where they arrived on 10 August 1943.

The convoy arrived in the Clyde on 11 August 1943. The remaining escort vessels then proceeded to Londonderry arriving there later the same day.

3 Aug 1943
For most of the day, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN) and HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN) patrolled in company with each other. (53)

5 Aug 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) returned to Gibraltar from patrol.

She quickly fuelled and then departed for patrol again and also to provide cover for convoy MKF 20.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy MKF 20 ' for 1 August 1943.] (53)

10 Aug 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from convoy escort duty. (53)

14 Aug 1943

Convoy MKS 21G.

This convoy departed Gibraltar on 14 August 1943.

The convoy was made up of the following transports; Bardistan (British, 7264 GRT, built 1942), Baron Ramsay (British, 3650 GRT, built 1929), Baxtergate (British, 5531 GRT, built 1925), Becheville (British, 4228 GRT, built 1924), Blairnevis (British, 4155 GRT, built 1930), City of Dieppe (British, 7958 GRT, built 1929), City of Durban (British, 5945 GRT, built 1921), Clan MacIver (British, 4500 GRT, built 1921), Clan MacNeil (British, 6111 GRT, built 1922), Coity Castle (British, 2767 GRT, built 1919), Dornoch (British, 5186 GRT, built 1939), Empire Baxter (British, 7024 GRT, built 1941), Empire Conrad (British, 7009 GRT, built 1942), Empire Friendship (British, 7058 GRT, built 1943), Esneh (British, 1931 GRT, built 1919), Fort Wedderburne (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Glaisdale (British, 3777 GRT, built 1929), Goodwin (British, 1570 GRT, built 1917), Marsa (British, 4405 GRT, built 1928), Marwarri (British, 8067 GRT, built 1935), Narva (British, 1575 GRT, built 1937), Norfalk (Norwegian, 5675 GRT, built 1919), Ogmore Castle (British, 2481 GRT, built 1919), Ottinge (British, 2870 GRT, built 1940), Pandorian (British, 4159 GRT, built 1941), Peleus (Greek, 4695 GRT, built 1928), Pendeen (British, 4174 GRT, built 1923), Saint Bernard (British, 5183 GRT, built 1939), Seapool (British, 4820 GRT, built 1940), Shuna (British, 1575 GRT, built 1937), Sneland I (Norwegian, 1791 GRT, built 1922) and Stanlodge (British, 5977 GRT, built 1943).

The boom carrier HMS Laomedon (6693 GRT, built 1912) (A/Cdr. W.N.M. Faichney, DSO, RNR) was also part of the convoy.

The convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Highlander (Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Gregorie, RD, RNR) and the corvettes HMS Abelia (Lt. R.I. Floris, RNZNR), HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr. H.P. Carse, DSC, RNVR), HMS Clover (Lt. P.H. Grieves, RNR), HMS Pennywort (Lt. O.G. Stuart, RCNVR) and the minesweeper HMS Speedy (A/Cdr. H.J.A.S. Jerome, DSO, RN).

On 15 August 1943, the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar to overtake the convoy and join the convoy escort for extra AA defence. She joined the convoy later the same day.

During the passage to the U.K. the transport Empire Friendship developed engine trouble. The transport Becheville stood by her to assist as did the corvette HMS Clover. The sloop HMS Hastings (Lt.Cdr. L.B. Philpott, DSC, RD, RNR) and tug Dexterous were sent out from Falmouth.

At 0515B/20, HMS Charybdis, parted company with the convoy to join the combined convoy WS 33 / KMF 22.

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 25 August 1943 minus the Empire Friendship and the Becheville which arrived on the 27th.

15 Aug 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar for convoy escort duty with convoy MKS 21G and then with the combined convoy WS 33 / KMF 22. (53)

17 Aug 1943

Combined convoy WS 33 / KMF 22.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 18 August 1943.

On assembly the combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Antenor (British, 11174 GRT, built 1925), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Boissevain (Dutch, 14134 GRT, built 1937), Cameronia (British, 19297 GRT, built 1920), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Glenartney (British, 9795 GRT, built 1940), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Johan de Witt (Dutch, 10474 GRT, built 1920), Marnix van St. Aldegonde (Dutch, 19355 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925) and Tegelberg (British, 14150 GRT, built 1937).

The convoy was escorted by the escort carrier HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), heavy cruiser HMAS Shropshire (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN), destroyer HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), sloops HMS Weston (Lt.Cdr. E. Gleave, RNR), HMS Chanticleer (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Bristowe, DSO, RN), HMIS Narbada (A/Cdr. A.W. Beeton, RIN), cutter HMS Totland (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.E. Tourtel, RNR) and the frigates HMS Barle (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Davies, RNVR), HMS Ettrick (Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RD, RNR) and HMS Usk (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Pattinson, DSC, RNR).

The AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) joined the convoy around 0955B/20.

HMS Charybdis parted company with the convoy around 2210B/21 and proceeded to Gibraltar arriving there on 22 August.

The entire combined convoy arrived at Gibraltar on 24 August 1943.

From Gibraltar the convoys continued on as KMF 22 and WS 33.

22 Aug 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from convoy escort duty.

[No logs are available for September and October 1943, so some details might be missing in the history of HMS Charybdis for these months.] (53)

4 Sep 1943
Around 1600B/4, the escort carrier HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) and HMS Holcombe (Lt. F.M. Graves, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta.

They were joined around 0730B/5 by the escort carrier HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN) and ORP Slazak (Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) coming from Oran.

More ships joined around 1940B/5. These were the aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR) and ORP Krakowiak (Lt.Cdr. W. Maracewicz). These ships had departed Algiers around 1845B/5.

These ships were to join forces at Malta with a few more ships which had already left earlier escorting an eastbound convoy. These ships were to form ' Force V ' for the upcoming landings at Salerno.

All ships listed above arrived at Malta in the morning of September, 7th except for HMS Euryalus which proceeded ahead already arriving late on the 6th. (54)

8 Sep 1943

Operations of ' Force V ' during operation Avalanche.

Around 1100B/8, ' Force V ' departed Malta for the tyrrhenian sea. ' Force V ' was made up of the HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker ( Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt. F.M. Graves, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR), ORP Slazak (Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) and ORP Krakowiak (Lt.Cdr. W. Maracewicz).

They passed through the Messina Strait during the night of 8/9 September. At dawn on the 9th ' Force V ' arrived in the assault area. The first sortie was flown off at 0615B/9 and subsequently at hourly intervals. The aircraft maintained patrols of 80 minutes until 1930B/9 when the last aircraft landed on.

' Force V ' operated in an area 30 miles square, to the southward of the assault area, approaching the island of Capri from time to time in order to obtain accurate fixes. Three types of patrol were flown;
a) A standing patrol south and east of Capri by seafires from the escort carriers.
b) A high patrol over the beaches from about sunrise until 0745 hours and from 1810 hours until just before sunset by seafires from HMS Unicorn. This was during the period that fighter cover was not provided from Sicilian airfields.
c) A standing high patrol over the low patrol in the Capri area during the remainder of the day by Seafires from HMS Unicorn.

A total of 265 sorties were flown on the first day. Cover over ' Force V ' was maintained by aircraft from the fleet carriers of ' Force H '. During the dark hours the force was withdrawn to the southward and operated to the east of a line joining Salerno and Palermo so as to keep clear of the convoy routes, returning to the flying-off area at dawn.

During 10 September the flying programme was repeated and 232 sorties were flown.

It had been hoped that ' Force V ' could be withdrawn on the 10th and that Montecorvino airfield could be used. The airfield had indeed been captured as planned but it remained under heavy enemy artillery fire and could only be used for forced landings. ' Force V ' therefore had to remain in the assault area, though its flying efficieny had decreased and the fuel situation of the escort destroyers was becoming difficult.

On 11 September the number of sorties flown decreased to 160. At 1900B/11, ' Force H ' on leaving for Malta flew 17 aircraft over to join ' Force V ', which now had to provide its own fighter cover. Montecorvino was still under fire and patrols were again flows off at dawn on 12 September. The total number of sorties flown on 12 September was 56.

A landing strip had been laid out at Paestrum and orders were received that all available fighters should land ashore and that ' Force V ' could then withdraw. This signal, though sent at 0909 hours was not received until 1230 hours. 26 Seafires were then flown off and ' Force V ' then withdrew arriving at Palermo around 1930B/12.

' Force V ' departed from Palermo around 0600B/13 for Bizerta arriving there around 1830B/13. (55)

14 Sep 1943
The light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) and the AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) departed Bizerta for Tripoli where they arrived around 0800B/15. (56)

15 Sep 1943
After embarking troops for Salerno, the light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) and the AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) departed Tripoli around 1930B/15.

They arrived off Salerno around 1230B/16. Troops commenced disembarking around 1300B/16 and was completed after around one hour.

They then left to proceed to Bizerta but HMS Euryalus and HMS Scylla were diverted to go the assistance of the damaged battleship Warspite. (see 16 September 1943).

HMS Charybdis continued on to Bizerta as she was needed to take General Eisenhower from Bizerta to Salerno for a visit. (56)

16 Sep 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Bizerta with General Eisenhower on board to visit the Salerno area.

She returned to Bizerta on the 17th. (57)

17 Sep 1943

Convoy MKF 24.

This convoy departed Port Said on 17 September 1943.

It was made up of the (troop) transports; Clan Campbell (British, 9545 GRT, built 1943), Eastern Prince (British, 10926 GRT, built 1929), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929) and Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935).

The armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN) was also part of the convoy. She was en-route from the East Indies station to the U.K. to be decommissioned and be outfitted for her new role as troop transport.

The convoy was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt.Cdr. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Rockwood (Lt. S.R. Le H. Lombard-Hobson, RN), RHS Kanaris and RHS Miaoulis.

At 0620C/18, the Eastern Prince was detached to Alexandria.

The convoy arrived at Algiers on 22 September 1943.

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On 28 September 1943 the convoy departed Algiers for the U.K.

It was now made up of the following (troop) transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Bergensfjord (Norwegian, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), Clan Campbell, Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Marnix van St. Aldegonde (Dutch, 19355 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Ruys (Dutch, 14155 GRT, built 1937), Staffordshire, Strathmore, Tegelberg (Dutch, 14150 GRT, built 1937) and Volendam (British, 15434 GRT, built 1922).

The armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage was still part of the convoy.

The convoy was escorted by the sloop HMS Pelican (Cdr. J.S. Dalison, DSO, RN) and the frigates HMS Evenlode (T/A/Lt.Cdr. A.L. Turner, RNR), HMS Jed (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Freaker, DSO and Bar, RD, RNR), HMS Rother (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR), HMS Spey (Lt.Cdr. B.A. Rogers, RD, RNR) and HMS Wear (Cdr. E. Wheeler, RD, RNR).

At 0700A/30, the Ruys and Volendam were detached.

At 0900A/30, the Empress of Australia and Monarch of Bermuda were detached.

At 0930A/30, the (troop) transports Empire Might (British, 9209 GRT, built 1942), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930) and Rochester Castle (British, 7795 GRT, built 1937) joined coming from Gibraltar.

Also the following warships joined at the same time; escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker (Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), seaplane carrier HMS Albatross (A/Capt.(Retd.) S. Barry, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wishart (Lt. J.A. Holdsworth, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN).

At 1400A/30, the Volendam rejoined.

At 1500A/30, the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) joined coming from Gibraltar.

At 1600A/30, the Ruys rejoined.

At 0420A/1, the Bergensfjord, Highland Princess and Volendam parted company to proceed to Freetown. They took HMS Wishart and HMS Witherington with them as escorts. Also the destroyer HMS Malcolm (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN) joined them which had came from Casablanca.

At 1300A/1, the Athone Castle was detached to proceed independently to New York.

At 0640Z/4, the light cruiser HMS Spartan (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) joined the convoy escort.

At 0635Z/5, HMS Spartan parted company with the convoy.

At 0930Z/5, HMS Charybdis and HMS Albatross parted company to proceed to Plymouth where they arrived on 6 October.

On 7 October the convoy arrived in U.K waters. The bulk of the convoy proceeded either to Greenock or to Liverpool.

20 Sep 1943
The light carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker (Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN), destroyer HMS Wishart (Lt. J.A. Holdsworth, RN) and the escort destroyers ORP Slazak (Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP), HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) and HMS Haydon (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN) departed Bizerta for Gibraltar via Algiers.

They made a short stop at Algiers in the evening of 21 September before continuing their passage to Gibraltar. At Algiers they were joined by the escort destroyer HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR).

They arrived at Gibraltar in the early hours of 23 September. (58)

30 Sep 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Gibraltar to overtake and join the escort of convoy MKF 24.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy MKF 24 ' for 17 September 1943.] (59)

6 Oct 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and HMS Albatross (A/Capt.(Retd.) S. Barry, RN) arrived at Plymouth. (60)

11 Oct 1943
The AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and the destroyer HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN) departed Plymouth to patrol near position 49°21'N, 08°30'W.

They returned to Plymouth around 1410A/11. (61)

12 Oct 1943
Around 1800A/12, HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed Plymouth to patrol off the Bay of Biscay between latitude 42°N and 45°N and longitude 20°W and 22°W. (61)

18 Oct 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) returned to Plymouth from patrol. (62)

22 Oct 1943
Around 1900A/22, ' Force 28 ', made up of the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), destroyers HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Limbourne (A/Cdr. W.J. Phipps, MVO, RN), HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Talybont (Lt. E.F. Baines, DSO, RN) and HMS Wensleydale (Lt. J.A. McClure, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth for a sweep along the north coast of Brittany. (61)

23 Oct 1943

Sinking of HMS Charybdis and HMS Limbourne.

Around 0135A/23, ' Force 28, made up of HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), HMS Limbourne (A/Cdr. W.J. Phipps, MVO, RN), HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Talybont (Lt. E.F. Baines, DSO, RN) and HMS Wensleydale (Lt. J.A. McClure, DSC, RN) encountered the German 4. Torpedo Boat Flotilla made up of T 22, T 23, T 25, T 26 and T 27.

In the resulting action HMS Charybdis and HMS Limbourne were hit by torpedoes and both sank as a result. HMS Charybdis was hit by the T 23 and T 27 while HMS Limbourne was hit by T 22.

' Force 28 ' was proceeding to the west at 14 knots when HMS Charybdis obtained a contact about 7 miles north of Triagoz Island. Two units were contacted about 9000 yards almost right ahead. HMS Charybdis opened fire with star shell but before these burst she was torpedoed amidships on the port side.

A number of torpedoes were observed by the other ships. HMS Charybdis was then hit by a second torpedo. HMS Limbourne was shortly afterwards also hit by one torpedo on the port side forward and the bow was blown off.

The enemy was not seen by the remaining ships and they soon became scattered in a heavy rain squall. HMS Grenville, which was now the ' Senior ' ship, reformed the surviving the ships and they returned to the scene of the action. The three remaining Hunt-class destroyers where then ordered to search for survivors while HMS Grenville and HMS Rocket searched for the enemy to the westward. They rejoined with the Hunt-class destroyers around 0500A/23. After picking up the survivors the force departed the scene of the action around 0630A/23. 4 Officers and 103 ratings were picked up from HMS Charybdis while from HMS Limbourne 11 Officers, including the Commanding Officer, and 92 ratings were picked up. (63)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/113894
  2. ADM 53/113895
  3. ADM 53/113985
  4. ADM 53/115570
  5. ADM 53/115571
  6. ADM 53/115572
  7. ADM 53/115572 + ADM 234/560 + ADM 234/561
  8. ADM 53/115573
  9. ADM 53/115573 + ADM 53/116384
  10. ADM 53/115573 + ADM 53/116122 + ADM 53/116366
  11. ADM 53/116522 + ADM 199/427
  12. ADM 53/115470 + ADM 53/115573
  13. ADM 199/662
  14. ADM 53/115573 + ADM 53/116522
  15. ADM 53/115573 + ADM 53/115864
  16. ADM 53/115574
  17. ADM 53/115362 + ADM 53/115574
  18. ADM 53/115574 + ADM 53/115865 + ADM 53/116523
  19. ADM 53/115362 + ADM 53/115574 + ADM 53/115865 + ADM 199/662
  20. ADM 53/115574 + ADM 199/662
  21. ADM 53/115575 + ADM 53/115866
  22. ADM 53/115575 + ADM 53/115866 + ADM 199/662
  23. ADM 53/115471 + ADM 53/115575 + ADM 53/115866 + ADM 199/662
  24. ADM 234/353
  25. ADM 53/115576
  26. ADM 53/115576 + ADM 199/662
  27. ADM 53/115576 + ADM 53/116163
  28. ADM 199/651 + ADM 234/353
  29. ADM 53/115577 + ADM 53/ + ADM 199/662
  30. ADM 53/115578
  31. ADM 53/115578 + ADM 199/662
  32. ADM 53/115579 + ADM 199/662
  33. ADM 53/115579 + ADM 173/17506 + ADM 199/662
  34. ADM 53/115579
  35. ADM 53/115408 + ADM 53/115579 + ADM 53/115967 + ADM 199/662
  36. ADM 53/115368 + ADM 53/115580 + ADM 53/116620 + ADM 53/116632 + ADM 199/662 + ADM 199/904 + ADM 234/359
  37. ADM 53/115580 + ADM 53/116620 + ADM 199/904
  38. ADM 199/662 + ADM 199/904
  39. ADM 53/115580 + ADM 53/116620
  40. ADM 53/115580 + ADM 53/116620 + ADM 199/662
  41. ADM 53/115581 + ADM 199/662
  42. ADM 53/115581
  43. ADM 53/117196
  44. ADM 53/117197
  45. ADM 53/117197 + ADM 199/632 + ADM 199/766 + ADM 234/560 + ADM 234/561
  46. ADM 53/117197 + ADM 199/632
  47. ADM 53/117198 + ADM 199/632
  48. ADM 53/117199 + ADM 199/2265
  49. ADM 53/117200
  50. ADM 53/117200 + ADM 199/2266
  51. ADM 53/117200 + ADM 199/2266 + ADM 199/2267
  52. ADM 53/117201
  53. ADM 53/117202
  54. ADM 53/117495 + ADM 53/118664 + ADM 199/641
  55. ADM 53/117495 + ADM 53/118664 + ADM 199/641 + ADM 234/358
  56. ADM 53/537495
  57. ADM 199/641
  58. ADM 53/118574 + ADM 53/118664 + ADM 199/641 + ADM 199/767
  59. ADM 199/767 + 199/2250
  60. ADM 53/116877 + ADM 199/2550
  61. ADM 199/2280
  62. ADM 199/2280 + ADM 199/2550
  63. ADM 199/2281

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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